Your perspective determines a lot in life. The lens through which you view events will greatly shape how you deal with life’s circumstances. In James 1:1 – 18 the author challenges us to look at some key areas in life through a biblical and God centered lens.
He begins by calling us to be joyful when we suffer. This is obviously not what we would expect. Our tendency is to view suffering as something to be avoided at all costs. But James reminds us that the trials we experience have a purpose behind them. God uses hardships to refine and strengthen our faith. They are conforming us more and more into the image of Jesus. And eventually even the hardest life on this earth is a “light momentary affliction” compared to the eternal reward that awaits followers of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:17). James is by no means making light of the suffering we endure in this life. He instead wants to magnify the incredible joy that awaits us at the end of this life. He wants to shift our perspective off of the temporary pain this life can bring to the immeasurable beauty that awaits us.
James then turns our focus to that of wealth. Our earthly perspective tells us to value the material. Store it up, enjoy it, idolize it, and even find our security and identity in wealth. But again, James tells us that a biblical perspective is quite different. The author first addresses the lowly. These are the low end on the socioeconomic ladder. To them, James says to boast in their exaltation. They are to remember that they are ultimately sons and daughters of the King. They must not let their identity in this life as poor, slaves, widows, or orphans override their identity for all of eternity as beloved children of God.
And to the wealthy Christians James calls them to boast in their humiliation. This is a reminder that although they may be powerful in this life they still are servants of the true King. Therefore, they too must make sure their identity is in Christ and not in their possessions or influence. After all, money makes for a horrible god. It will leave them bankrupt and needy if they place their hope in it.
And finally, James addresses temptation and anything that may take our focus off of God. To be sure, as Christians we know we shouldn’t mess around with the “big” sins. But when it comes to the “lesser” sins we may at times not resist them with the same intensity. James reminds us that temptation in any form can lead to a destructive end. If temptation is not resisted it will lead to sin. And that sin, if not fought with violence, leads to death. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. He tells us to fight temptation and sin with a radical willingness to do whatever it takes to pursue obedience and holiness.
Each of these perspectives provided by James go against our natural tendencies and the culture as a whole. So, how do we maintain these correct perspectives? One primary way is through Scripture. It is vital to our faith to continually saturate ourselves with the truth of the Bible in order to maintain a biblical perspective.
James also reminds us that if we need something we just need to ask. This life will present us with many challenges in which we may not be sure what to do or how to respond. In these situations James tells us to simply ask God for wisdom. God loves to generously reward those who ask with direction and guidance. After all, He is a gracious Father who promises to provide for our needs. This has already been demonstrated through our salvation. If He has taken care of our greatest need He will be faithful to care for all of our other needs (Romans 8:32).
So, what is your perspective on life? Does your view in these areas and others line up with the truths of Scripture? Take time to allow your lenses to be formed by the truths of God’s Word. Ask Him for wisdom to live a life that brings glory to Him and joy to your life.