corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.11.16
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
James 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-26

James 1:1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was an apostle, and he was the Lord’s brother, yet he mentions not these greater things, but he takes the lowly title, in which, no doubt, he felt the highest honour, and calls himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Happy is that man who serves the Lord, whose whole life is not that of an independent master of himself, but of one who is fully submissive to the divine command. Where is the fiction of the ten lost tribes? He writes to the twelve tribes that were scattered abroad, and gives them greeting, so that this Epistle is first directed to the seed of Israel, and then, as in all things, to all the Church of God, seeing all the saints of God are the true seed of believing Abraham, the father of believers.

James 1:2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

Do not sorrow over your trials, do not look upon them as misfortunes and calamities, they are black vessels, but they are loaded with gold. Your choicest mercies come to you disguised as your sharpest trials. Welcome them; do not sorrow over them, but rejoice in them.

James 1:3-4. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Endure everything; suffer everything that God sends you. Bathe yourself in this rough sea, till, by God’s blessing, it hath strengthened you and cleansed you, for to that end he sends it, and that it may perfect you by discipline, educating all your spiritual faculties, and bringing out all your powers for his glory. Shrink not then, seek not to escape by any wrong means from trial, but go through with it, have perfect endurance of it, that ye may be perfect and whole, wanting nothing. “If any of you lack wisdom,” and that is the point where you are most likely not to be perfect and entire.

James 1:5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

We are so apt, when we give anything, to diminish the value of it by some unkind remarks, but God doeth not so; he giveth, as he bids us give, with simplicity. There is the gift, and he will not detract from it by upbraiding us. Why, some will upbraid the poor while they help them: “How came you to be in such a condition?” But God saith not so to us; the gift is given in pure liberality, without any upbraiding. Wisdom is a gift. The best wisdom is not that which we acquire by study, but that which is the distinct gift of God in answer to prayer.

James 1:6. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

Now on the shore, now sinking back, now driving fearlessly ahead, then sinking down. This is not the kind of man that prevails with God in prayer, it is not the kind of faith we ought to have in God a faith that is very brilliant on the Sunday, and very dull on the Monday: a faith that is triumphant after a sermon, but which seems to be defeated when we get into actual trouble.

James 1:7-8. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Unstable in everything. Till you get a single heart, till your whole soul is bound up in confidence in God, you cannot expect to be stable in your ways. “Unite my heart to fear thy name,” and then I shall not be a double-minded man.

James 1:9. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:

The lowness of his estate is an exaltation. He shall find in his troubles a double blessing; he shall be made greater by being so little. “But let the rich rejoice in that he is made low,” so that what would have been foolish pomp and pride is taken away from him, and, by the grace of God, he is kept low. “Because as the flower of the grass, he shall pass away.”

James 1:10-11. But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

Oh! to be delivered from all glorying in such uncertain riches. Whatever God gives you, he may soon take away from you; if he takes it not away, he may take away your power to enjoy it: it is poor, slippery stuff at the very best. Rejoice that you have something better, something lasting.

James 1:12. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

It is promised to love, but it is given to endurance. It is the love of God which spies out our love and rewards it, but rewards it partly by trying it, and then ultimately by bringing forth the stephanos, the crown. Men ran for a crown in the Greek games, and could not win the crown without the running. So doth God give to them that run a crown, but not without the running. He giveth to them, first, the privilege of suffering for his name’s sake, and then of being rewarded for it.

James 1:13. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

God tries men, but the motive of a trial is that which differences it from a temptation. In a temptation we try a man with a view of inducing him to do wrong; but God tries men to best them, that they may, by finding out their weakness, be saved from doing wrong. He never inclines a heart to evil. While he doeth all things, and is in all things, yet not so that he himself doeth evil, or can be charged therewith.

James 1:14. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

This is the wanton harlot that deceives the heart of man: his own desire grown strong and hot till it cometh to be a lusting: this draws a man away; it baits the hook, and man swallows it and is thus entrapped and enticed.

James 1:15. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

There is the history and pedigree of sin. God save us from having any connection with the desire to sin, lest from that we be led into sin, and then from sin descend into death.

James 1:16-17. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,

All good from God, all evil from ourselves.

James 1:17. And cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

There is variableness and there is the shadow of turning in the sun, but in that greater Father of lights there is neither parallax nor tropic; he is evermore the same, and we may go to him with unwavering confidence because he is the same. Oh! what a blessing to such changing creatures as we are to have an unchanging God! “Of his own will.” If you want to know the power of God’s will, it never goes towards evil.

James 1:18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

The best and noblest part of his creation, the twice begotten, the immortals that shall be the bodyguard of his Son, that shall stand about his bed, which is Solomon’s, each man with his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night. What a privilege it is to be begotten of God, to be the “firstfruits” of his creatures!

James 1:19. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear,

Because it is by the Word that we are begotten: let us be swift to hear it. “Slow to speak,” because there is so much sin in us that the less we speak the better. In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin. Great talkativeness is seldom dissociated from great sinfulness. “Slow to wrath.”

James 1:20. Slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

There is a tendency to grow angry with those who do not see the truth; but is it not a foolish thing to be angry with blind men because they do not see? What if you see yourself? Who opened your eyes? Give God the promise for what you see, and never think that your anger, your indignation, your hot temper, can ever work the righteousness of God. It is contrary thereto, and cannot work towards it.

James 1:21-23. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

It is a good thing for him to do that, to see himself as others see him. “Beholding his natural face,” even as men in looking into the Word of God, behold the face of their nature; they see what they are like as they look into the glass.

James 1:24-26. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.


Verses 1-27

James 1:1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

According to the teaching of some in the present day, the apostle should have said, “To the two tribes, and the ten that are lost,” but he does not say so, nor does Scripture say so. “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.”

James 1:2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations;

Or, “trials.” This is a strange thing to say, is it not? Should we not count it great joy when we escape from trial? Perhaps so; but we are expressly told to count, or reckon, it all joy when we fall into divers trials. Have you never known what it is, in times of peace and quietness, to feel as if you missed the grandeur of the presence of God? I have looked back to times of trial with a kind of longing, not to have them return, but to feel the strength of God as I have felt it then, to feel the power of faith, as I have felt it then, to hang upon God’s powerful arm as I hung upon it then, and to see God at work as I saw him then. I think the mariner at home must sometimes feel a kind of longing once more to enjoy a storm on the ocean, and to see how the good ship rides on the billows’ crest. Life gets flat sometimes while all goes smoothly, and we need even the variety of a trial to bring us to close dealing with our God. It is so much for our good to be tried, it is so much for the glory of God that we should be tried, that we will read the verse again, and note what the apostle says: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers trials.” Be like the soldier who is not afraid of the shot and shell, and the turmoil and strife of the battle.

James 1:3. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

That is a gem of the first water, well worth finding even if you have to dig in the mines of trial for it.

James 1:4. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

This is true Christian perfection, when every gracious quality is present, and present in perfection. If you have a child, it is a great joy to you to find the child perfect as a child, — with no sense deficient, no limb wanting, and every part rightly formed. Oh, that we may all be such Christians, “perfect and entire, wanting nothing”!

James 1:5. If any of you lack wisdom,

That is the point in which we are all deficient; and if we are to be wanting in nothing, we must not be lacking in wisdom. How, then, are we to obtain it?

James 1:5. Let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Young beginner, you who have but lately put on Christ, you certainly do lack wisdom; you cannot have attained that boon in all its fullness yet, then go to God for it. He can give it to you, and he will give it to you if you ask him for it.

James 1:6-7. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

It ensures failure in prayer when there is not a decided faith in the one who prays, and it ensures failure of the whole life if there is not a decided determination to serve the Lord.

James 1:8-11. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace —

Or,” beauty “ —

James 1:11. Of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

No matter how luxurious may be his mode of living, no matter how admirable may be his taste, he shall certainly fade, and all that he has will fade, too; and if this be all that can be said of him, that he is a rich man, he is a very poor creature indeed.

James 1:12. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

For that is the purpose of our trials, that we should be made to love him more, and love him better. This is that grace which shall win “the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

James 1:13. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God : for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

That is to say, if God permits or sends temptation to any man, it is not an inducement to sin. In that sense, God tempts no man. Those temptations which are said to come from God are trials or tests. In that sense, God does tempt all his people, even as it is written, “God did tempt (or, prove) Abraham.” He tries and tests them, that they may see, and that he may see, whether their faith and their profession be genuine or not, even as the Angel of the Lord said to Abraham, after the trial of his faith, “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”

James 1:14. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

This is the essence of an evil temptation, a man’s own lust.

James 1:15. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin: when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

There you see the egg, and the larva, and the full-grown fly of sin: “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

James 1:16. Do not err, my beloved brethren.

Do not err about anything; but, especially, do not err about this matter of temptation, where you may so easily make a blunder: “Do not err, my beloved brethren.”

James 1:17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Ascribe all evil to yourself, to the world, or to Satan; but ascribe all good unto God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift” — every grain of goodness, every trace of excellence that there is in the world, comes from him; but no evil ever comes from him.

James 1:18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

It is a very delightful idea that we are presented to God as “a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” There is a whole harvest behind us, as Paul also reminds us in Romans 8:19-21 : “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

James 1:19-20. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Therefore, when we are tempted, let us not be in a hurry to pronounce a verdict on the temptation. If we are slandered and evil spoken of, let us not be quick to reply, or to grow angry. Let us be slow — very slow — to wrath; it will be our wisdom, for no good comes of human wrath: “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

James 1:21. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

Receive it as a graft. As the tree is prepared by the knife to receive the new shoot that is to be put into it, and does so receive it as to make it its own, and to use it for its own fruit-bearing purposes, even in that way “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”

James 1:22-24. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

The best thing to do when you look into a glass, and spy a spot on your face, is to wash it off directly. The true use of hearing the Word, or reading it, is to amend one’s self at once in those points in which the Word discovers us to be faulty. To look in the glass, and not to wash off the spots, is but a piece of vanity; and to hear a sermon, or read a chapter, and not to put into practice what we are taught, is a sad waste of time.

James 1:25. But whose looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

There are many who complain of their short memories when they are hearing sermons. Well, then, let them be quick about doing what the sermon bids them, and then they will not be forgetful hearers. You have heard how one good woman described the effect of the sermon she has heard. She was one who washed wool, and when her minister went round to ask her what she had learned on the previous Sabbath, she did not even recollect the text. “Oh, Janet!” said he, “I am afraid you are a forgetful hearer; I cannot see what good the sermon has done to you.” So she took him to the back of her house, where she had a pump; and she worked at the handle while she held underneath the spout a sieve full of wool that was dirty and foul. The water ran through the wool, and through the sieve, and all ran away. “There,” she said, “this sieve is like my memory; but, sir, though the water does not stop in the sieve, it washes the wool; and what you preach, though it does not stop in my memory, it has washed my heart and cleansed my life and conversation.” Never mind about keeping the water in the sieve so long as it washes the wool. No man can be said to be a forgetful hearer who is a doer of the work that he is bidden to perform.

James 1:26. If any man among you seem to be religious, —

You know what that means; and there are some who do seem to be wonderfully religious. Butter would not melt in their mouths, as we say; they are so solemn: “If any man among you seem to be religious,” —

James 1:26. And bridleth not his tongue, —

That little noisy troublesome member: “and bridleth not his tongue,” —

James 1:26. But deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

If religion does not salt your tongue, and keep it sweet, it has done nothing for you. If the doctor wants to know the state of your health, he says, “Let me see your tongue;” and there is no better test of the health of the mind than to see what is on the tongue. When it gets furred up with unkind words, when it turns black with blasphemy, when it is spotted with lasciviousness, there is something very bad inside the heart, you may be quite sure of that.

James 1:27. Pure religion —

It might be rendered, “Pure ritualism “ —

James 1:27. And undefiled before God and the Father is this, —

What is pure ritualism according to the inspired apostle? To wear a white surplice, and to change it for a black gown? I do not see that in the Scriptures. To have little boys in white to sing for you? I do not see that; but what I do see is this, —

James 1:27. To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

I should like to have such a choir as this, a company of Christian men and women robed in unspotted holiness. We shall have such a choir as that around the eternal throne, so they who wish to be there had better begin to practice the music here. The Lord help you to do so, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on James 1:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/james-1.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology