God teaches us all we need to know about our lives through HIS words. Every book in the Bible contains life lessons that can transform our lives and our relationship with God and neighbors. The Epistle of James is a special one especially as millions of people around the world are hurting and losing their peace.
For one, the book of James is a guide to the best approach to suffering. It is also a guide towards the understanding and application of faith in the high and low moments of our lives.
It is in our valley moments that we find the meaning and core understanding of life. That is when we truly begin to make meaning of the little and mighty things God permits in our paths. The essence of every hurdle we meet is to refine and redefine us. It helps us birth a stronger, wiser and better version of ourselves.
The book of James teaches us a good number of lessons which include unwavering faith, wisdom, patience, praying with the right motives and basic good human relationship with our neighbors.
St James does not only encourage us to bear our crosses and endure suffering. He also guides us to how to productively wait in faith till God comes through.
In a time when everyone you know is going through one challenge or the other, the epistle of James is a good one to strengthen and lift our spirits.
Here are my top 5 life lessons to learn from the epistle of James:
1. Unwavering Faith
The strongest point in the book of James is faith – enduring pain and believing God. Faith is a special gift from God. It is faith that solidifies our connection with God. Through our tests and temptations it is faith that sustains us. In all circumstances, our faith in God must show through our actions. (James 2:14)
Without faith there would be fewer Christians than you’ve come across. Why? Because the world is full of heart-breaking experiences; hardships you can’t explain; pain that you probably do not deserve by all calculations. But in all of the tears, confusion and frustrations, there is a living hope in Jesus that HIS promises for a prosperous and bright future will come to pass.
St James reminds us that God is aware of our high and low moments. Hence we are to be thankful in all circumstances, knowing that the wisdom of God will prevail at the end of the day. God knows exactly what HE’s doing.
2. Heroic Patience
We are constantly reminded of Job in the Bible. As a teenager, Job was just one of those Bible stories. Finding myself in the “grown up” street in the real world, I understood it could only take the hand of God to lift you from the series of tragedy that Job went through without cursing God.
Patience is a virtue we expect God to have with us but get irritated when God expects same from us. Being patient with God still borders on our faith in HIM. Patience is not just waiting but waiting in faith.
3. Assess Your Motives and Values
In the 4th chapter of James, verse 3 says we do not get what we pray for because we do not pray with the right motives. A number of questions sprung up on me as I studied this chapter:
- Why do you pray for the things that you pray for?
- Is your success boastful? Is it to prove points or spite others?
- Are you jealous/envious of other people’s blessings?
- Are you frustrated when your “fierce desires” are not granted? How far can you go when your desires are not granted?
In a society that is excessively thirsty for fame and success, it is easy to confuse the reason we seek God to bless us. St James reminds us that our requests is as important as the motives for making them. God sees our hearts and if pure motives are missing in our requests, it’s clearly an effort in futility. Your purpose and prayer must align with the will and purpose of God for your life.
4. Bridle Your Tongue
The tongue is the smallest but most powerful part of the body. The Bible says it is capable of releasing “hellish fire”. The power of life and death lies in the tongue.
It is wisdom to think before speaking. We are responsible for what we say.
Most importantly, St James reminds us what a disgusting thing it is to bless God and at the same time curse our neighbors with the same tongue. God deserves pure worship. We jeopardize that when we carelessly tell lies and blurt out curses.
“Does a spring gush forth from the same opening both pure and brackish water?” James 3:11
5. None Is Superior Than Another
As imitators of Christ we are encouraged to embrace peace and humility in our daily dealings with each other. If we understand this mandate, then there would be no room for being judgmental/overtly critical of other people, discrimination, or treat people by outer appearance (class distinctions).
We owe it to ourselves to banish all forms of self-righteous tendencies. The Bible says none is holy. We are all on our unique journeys and God relates to us mostly on an individual bases. So it won’t hurt to be a little more understanding about the shortcomings of one another.
6. Prayer Is Power
James 4:2 says, “…You do not possess because you do not ask.” Prayer is one of the most powerful tools God has given to His children. It is a privilege to relate one on one with the maker of the universe.
St James goes further to stress the importance of prayer when he says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful. Through prayers, we can heal the sick, convert our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the path of truth and many more.
Just like in the days of Elijah, we can speak life into our situations by way of prayer. Through our prayerful submission to God in prayer, we are able to resist the devil and all his tactics (James 4:7). We must never also forget to prayer with a pure heart.
7. True Religion
We may define Christianity with all sorts of spirituality but the epistle of James sums it up in two functions – care for the orphans and widows; and living a pure life. In other words we have been called to be compassionate; to make holiness a lifestyle. Holiness is nothing short of obedience to God and love for your neighbor.