1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
Trials and temptations
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,1:2 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verses 16 and 19; and in 2:1, 5, 14; 3:10, 12; 4:11; 5:7, 9, 10, 12, 19. whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
9Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10But the rich should take pride in their humiliation – since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
12Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13When tempted, no-one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Listening and doing
19My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.
26Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
1I, James, am writing this letter. I serve God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am sending this letter to you, the 12 tribes scattered among the nations.
Facing All Kinds of Trouble
2My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy. 3Your faith will be tested. You know that when this happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. 4And you must allow this strength to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need. 5If any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone and doesn’t find fault. 6But when you ask, you must believe. You must not doubt. That’s because a person who doubts is like a wave of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around. 7They shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8This kind of person can’t make up their mind. They can never decide what to do.
9Here’s what believers who are in low positions in life should be proud of. They should be proud that God has given them a high position in the kingdom. 10But rich people should take pride in their low positions. That’s because they will fade away like wild flowers. 11The sun rises. Its burning heat dries up the plants. Their blossoms fall. Their beauty is destroyed. In the same way, rich people will fade away. They fade away even as they go about their business.
12Blessed is the person who keeps on going when times are hard. After they have come through hard times, this person will receive a crown. The crown is life itself. The Lord has promised it to those who love him.
13When a person is tempted, they shouldn’t say, “God is tempting me.” God can’t be tempted by evil. And he doesn’t tempt anyone. 14But each person is tempted by their own evil desires. These desires lead them on and drag them away. 15When these desires are allowed to remain, they lead to sin. And when sin is allowed to remain and grow, it leads to death.
16My dear brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone fool you. 17Every good and perfect gift is from God. This kind of gift comes down from the Father who created the heavenly lights. These lights create shadows that move. But the Father does not change like these shadows. 18God chose to give us new birth through the message of truth. He wanted us to be the first harvest of his new creation.
Listen to the Word and Do What It Says
19My dear brothers and sisters, pay attention to what I say. Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry. 20Human anger doesn’t produce the holy life God wants. 21So get rid of everything that is sinful. Get rid of the evil that is all around us. Don’t be too proud to accept the word that is planted in you. It can save you.
22Don’t just listen to the word. You fool yourselves if you do that. You must do what it says. 23Suppose someone listens to the word but doesn’t do what it says. Then they are like a person who looks at their face in a mirror. 24After looking at themselves, they leave. And right away they forget what they look like. 25But suppose someone takes a good look at the perfect law that gives freedom. And they keep looking at it. Suppose they don’t forget what they’ve heard, but they do what the law says. Then this person will be blessed in what they do.
26Suppose people think their beliefs and how they live are both right. But they don’t control what they say. Then they are fooling themselves. Their beliefs and way of life are not worth anything at all. 27Here are the beliefs and way of life that God our Father accepts as pure and without fault. When widows are in trouble, take care of them. Do the same for children who have no parents. And don’t let the world make you impure.