James’ epistle is one of the most practical books of Scripture and this must be because James was a very practical guy. It is incredible to consider that he was almost certainly the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ – imagine having the Lord Jesus as your older ‘half’ brother, and Mary and Joseph as your biological parents!
However, life was anything but easy for James and maybe that is why he was so practical. We know he was from a large poor family who probably worked in the family trade of construction. It’s quite possible that he witnessed and experienced the societal shame that accompanied the legitimacy of Jesus’ birth – some in the religious community they lived in wouldn’t have allowed the family to forget the ‘unusual’ circumstances of Jesus’ birth such as being born ‘out of wedlock’, the appearance of the angels and the virgin birth.
Furthermore, Dad may not have been around for all of James’ childhood as there is little mention of Joseph after Jesus younger years. Most challenging of all, imagine having an older brother who was literally sinless and perfect!
Maybe it is not surprising that James only came to faith when he met the risen Lord Jesus – maybe, he harboured some resentment towards his perfect brother? Maybe he choose to distance himself from Jesus because of the ridicule that accompanied being associated with him (particularly in their home town)?
However, James did see Jesus very close and personal and he has much to teach us – particularly about how to approach trials which is as topical today as ever.
Danny recently preached a sermon on James 1:1-8 where we are encouraged to 1) find joy in all trials 2) persevere in all trials, and 3) seek wisdom in all trials.
You can listen to the sermon below:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ (James 1:2-4)