Paul Kretzmann Commentary - James 1:2 - 1:7

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - James 1:2 - 1:7


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Temptation and prayer:

v. 2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations,

v. 3. knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

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

v. 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.

v. 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.

v. 7. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.

Without any introduction or preliminary discussion, the apostle immediately plunges into his admonitions, taking up the question of temptation and prayer first: All joy consider it, my brethren, if you meet with various temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. The picture used by the writer is that of a soldier when he meets face to face an opponent against whose attack he has been warned and whose mode of fighting he has studied. The suspense of waiting for the threatened onslaught is over; the Christian may close with his enemies. Just as a form of exultation takes hold of a soldier at such a time, because he can now go into action, so the Christian should rejoice that he may become engaged in the combat which the spiritual warfare in this world demands of him. For it is not in his own strength that he is battling, but in the might of the Lord communicated to him by faith. No matter what the temptation may therefore be, this thought serves for comfort, namely, that the testing of faith through the various temptations with which the Christians have to battle teaches them patient endurance, actually accomplishes, works this state of mind in them. Every confessing Christian, therefore, that stands firm in the midst of such trials, Eph_6:10-16, gives proof that his faith is sound, and this evidence in itself induces him to take courage, bear patiently, and persevere.

This patience is necessary in the life of the Christians, as the apostle says: But let patience have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, deficient in nothing. The patient endurance of Christians must not be a mere pretense, but should be real, true, the finished product, bearing the name with full propriety. For it is only then that believers themselves will be as they should be, fulfilling their lot in the world, fully equal to their high calling, not deficient or lacking in any essential of Christian sanctification. If a person calling himself a Christian yields to the very first attack of his enemies or does not hold out under their repeated onslaughts, proof is given that he does not yet possess the faith which is founded on the Lord's power, a faith which overcomes the world with all its temptations.

Another thought is now introduced by the apostle concerning a factor which is just as essential in the life of the Christians: But if any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him ask of God in sincerity and without reproach, and it will be given him. In view of man's helplessness and lack of prudence and foresight in the various situations of life, this admonition with its assurance gives a great deal of comfort. It happens so often that Christians are at their wit's end, being able to see neither what is the best policy under given circumstances nor how to attain to the end that is plainly to be reached. In every situation, however, no matter how complicated, we have the assurance of God's help, and should therefore ask for it in simple trust, knowing that God distributes His gifts with all singleness of aim, without requiring anything in return. Nor does He resent it if our prayer seems childish, unworthy of His august attention. Neither our own essential unworthiness nor the majesty of the Lord should serve to keep us from asking Him for what we need to assist us in our own sanctification and in the work of His kingdom. See Heb_4:16. Here, as in other passages of Scriptures, we are definitely told that God will hear the prayer of those that believe in Him. See Mat_7:7; Mar_11:24; Luk_11:9; Joh_14:13.

But the apostle adds a word of warning: But let him ask in faith, doubting nothing; for he that doubts is like a billow of the sea agitated and swayed by the wind. For let that man not imagine that he will receive anything from God. Every true prayer is a fruit of faith by which the believer enters into the relation of a child toward God. As dear children ask their dear father, so should the faith of the Christians urge them to place their wants before their Father in heaven. To doubt is the very antithesis of faith, and is an insult to the kindness and goodness of the Lord. The doubter is fitly described as being like a wave, a billow of the great sea, which is driven and fanned by the wind, first in one direction and then in another, whence waves have always been used to describe instability of character and thought. The faith of a Christian has a firm foundation; the doubt of the timid, though he profess to be a Christian, has no foundation. And therefore such a person should not delude himself into thinking that he will receive anything from the Lord, for his very attitude shuts him out from the promises that have been given to faith and to the prayer of faith. Note that there is a ring of contempt in the passage at the idea of a man with halting faith expecting his prayer to be answered.