Seeking Wisdom in Hard Times (Intro & Ch. 1:1-11)


Jesus’ younger brother, studied as a Rabbi

Rejected Jesus: Mark (3:21; 6:2-4, 6) and John (7:5; 19:25-27)

He didn’t believe in Jesus as Christ until resurrection day visit (1 Cor. 15:3–7)

He was a leader of the Jerusalem church along with Peter & John

Executed in 62 AD


People who had come to faith in Jerusalem (Jews)

They had been forced to flee because of the Jewish Leaders’ policy of persecution


To provide guidance on Christian lifestyle based on Jewish belief and The Revelation of Christ.

Historical Context:

Book written and distributed about 14 years after Christ death & Resurrection

Christians were scattered around Judea & beyond

Written prior to the 1st Jerusalem Council (50AD)

Scriptural Context:

Written like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes (Wisdom Literature)

James stature in the Jerusalem church gave it weight at 1st (canonicity disputed)

Read without the context of the rest of Scripture it can seem based on law not grace

1 This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!

  • ‘Bond Slave’
  • The single word ‘Greetings” is unique to James

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

  • The addressing of ‘Brothers & Sisters’ assumes the ‘Bond of The Spirit’
  • Troubles of any kind: The kind you caused & the kind you didn’t cause
  • The only way to grow is to be tested, enduring these things transforms you
  • James encourages us to figure out how to let it grow
  • Ownership of your Discipleship is the path to development
  • Your completeness and wholeness happens when you let God shape you

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.

  • ‘If you need’…who is not in need?
  • The Wisdom you need is accessible, God wants to provide it…
  • God has a filter for His distribution of wisdom: His Spirit (In Us by faith in Christ)
  • We must approach Him as Who He Is: ‘My All in All’

Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

  • Divided Loyalty is a great translation rather than ‘believer without doubt’…
  • A wave cannot control where it goes.
  • If loyalty is divided between God & ANYTHING else, your relationship will suffer
  • Communion with God & HIS wisdom is for those who surrender all to God (Jesus: ‘Give up your life for me and the Gospel’)
  • We were created to be undivided in our loyalty to God…Shalom

9 ‘Believers’ who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field.

  • What really matters; this life or the next?
  • As ‘Believers’ they have eternal life, provided by God for His reasons
  • As Christ followers we boast only about what God has done
  • In God’s perspective it has happened…

11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

  • All that is temporal (of this life) will not last…all without ‘Eternal Value’ fades
  • ‘The Rich’ are those who do everything for their self gain & glory
  • The Rich are occupied with their pursuits and reject Christ

Application Questions:

Why don’t you respond to trouble with joy?

How do you approach God to ask for wisdom in your daily life?

What in your life keeps you from letting God grow your faith in hard times?

What are the things that can pull your loyalty away from God? Why can they do this?