Walk This Way
Week 1: James 1:1-4
This week we begin a new preaching series on the book of James. This letter to early Christians is believed to be written by James, the half-brother of Jesus. James was a leader in the Jerusalem church and his letter is likely one of the earliest parts of the New Testament to be written and circulated. The writing style is direct, blunt, and personally challenging. It is similar in many ways to wisdom literature like the book of Proverbs and targets many of the key issues the early church wrestled with. The instructions to those first believers are still relevant for us today. From the book of James, we will see that sometimes the truth is hard to hear. We need to listen well. James also reminds us that our beliefs shape our behaviors. We need to believe rightly. And we will hear again and again that our choices deeply impact those around us. We need to live rightly too. The book of James teaches us how to walk the walk of faith. And right from the start we are told to view trials as a key part of God’s plan to purify and strengthen us.
What are some of the trials that you have experienced in life recently?
Getting into the Text:
1. (James 1:2-3) We bring some trials on ourselves by our own choices while others come to us from the outside. Do you think James has both kinds in mind here? How do trials test our faith? What does an unfaithful, unjoyful response to trials look like?
2. (James 1:4) How long does it take for steadfastness to have its full effect? At what point do we become perfect and complete? If this is God’s goal for us, what should we expect in terms of trials in life? Doesn’t God also want us to be happy and blessed? (See James 1:12)
3. (Romans 5:1-4) What similarities with James 1:2-4 do you see in this passage? Does it seem like the people who are suffering in Romans 5 are people that God is angry or upset with? How does that help us to interpret God’s message to us in times of trial?
4. (Hebrews 12:1-7,11) What similarities with James 1:2-4 do you see in this passage? Jesus is our best example of how to endure trials well. What enabled him to endure with joy? What does this passage tell us about how God expresses his love for us? What is his goal for us in discipline?
1. How do you feel about the idea that God desires to grow and purify your faith by testing and trial? Have you seen this to be effective in your own life to this point? What might help you to think about the trials in your life more as God does?
2. Sometimes our response to a trial is to try to get out from under it. What do we miss out on if we consistently do that? In what area of your life might God be calling you to endure right now rather than escape? How might Hebrews 12:3 be an encouragement to you as you endure?