Main point summary
As you face trials, rejoice and remain steadfast, because you know what God is doing through trials--developing your faith and preparing an eternal reward. Also receive the Word of God with action.
a James, a servant 1 of God and b of the Lord Jesus Christ, To c the twelve tribes in d the Dispersion: Greetings.
e Count it all joy, my brothers, 1 when you meet trials f of various kinds, for you know that g the testing of your faith h produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be i perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
j If any of you lacks wisdom, k let him ask God, l who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But m let him ask in faith, n with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like o a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; p he is a double-minded man, q unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and r the rich in his humiliation, because s like a flower of the grass 1 he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and t withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
u Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive v the crown of life, w which God has promised to those who love him.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire x when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and y sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
z Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from a the Father of lights b with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 1 c Of his own will he d brought us forth by the word of truth, e that we should be a kind of f firstfruits of his creatures.
g Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person h be quick to hear, i slow to speak, j slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Therefore k put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with l meekness the implanted word, m which is able to save your souls.
But be n doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, o the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, p he will be blessed in his doing.
If anyone thinks he is religious q and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s r religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction, and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
For the devotional meditation, I have chosen to focus on the subset of chapter 1 in verses 19-21. Although I found it difficult to connect this passage with all the rest in the whole-chapter arc, there are some helpful thoughts we can glean from it. Often, verse 19 is isolated from the context as a good piece of advice about how we should listen more than we speak. Although that is a good thought, it is not what the text is trying to convey. Here, James is writing about receiving God's word. In verse 18 he told us that we were brought forth by the word of truth. In verse 21, he says we are to put away sin and receive with meekness the implanted word. I take it then that what we need to swift to hear is God's word . We should be slow to speak out when we hear it (in other words, we think about it first and don't just shoot off at the mouth). And we should certainly not be upset by it--say when it confronts our sin or tells us how we need to improve our lives. Imagine the context of receiving the Word in a local church service. Someone that blurts out their displeasure at what they hear, or gets upset about it and walks away from the church, is not following this injunction by James. These responses do not produce God's desired righteousness in our lives. Rather, we need to put aside bad responses to the Word and receive it meekly. It is what has saved our souls! Of course, we can add in Scripture's other teaching about being discerning and not believing everything that every preacher says (1 John 4:1). We must be like Bereans (Acts 17:11). But we must give due respect to the Word. The following verses instruct us HOW to do this. We must receive the Word with action--doing what it says to do, not just looking at it and going away unchanged. We must not receive it in such a way that we "think" ourselves to be religious while not actually following its commands.