Last week, I wrote out all of James's epistle as if it were a letter from God to me. Here is the final chapter. This was a very enlightening project.
(1-6) If you keep watching, your house, your car, your clothes, even your body will waste away. If you put your keep putting your hope in things, you are going to be absolutely miserable when you watch it fall apart before your eyes. If you aren’t careful, your soul will corrode along with all of this stuff. Not only that, all of the people whom you have treated unfairly testify against you and I hear their cries. Remember, I am for the downtrodden and to think you are one who treads them down! Every time you speak or act in a way that makes you look good at the expense of others, it is a testimony against you. Your file is thick, child, and apart from the blood of my son, you have no hope of acquittal.
(7-8) So rather than placing your hopes in stuff, or in your comfort, or your success, hope forward. Be patient. I will be there soon. Just think about your garden. When snow still covers the ground, you plant seeds and you tend to them. If you were to judge its success in the first few weeks, you would feel pretty defeated, but today’s faith in these seedlings anticipates a future hope. I’m coming. Have faith.
(9-11) As you wait for me, don’t fall back into the habit of grumbling against your brothers and sisters. As I said, I’m coming back soon, focus on that instead. There will be times when life and relationships just seem so hard and you will feel impatient and begin to justify your self-centered attitudes. When you start feeling that way, think back to the prophets, who often saw nothing but misery, yet they hoped in me. Just think about my friend Job. If he would have been focused in the here and now, he would have killed himself because he had nothing to live for. But he continued hoping in me even though he could not see my purposes. Now, he understands.
(12) Live simply. You don’t need to make fancy promises. Be a man of your word. Whether you say yes or no, stick by what you said. If you are always honest, you won’t be caught in a lie.
(13-15) Don’t forget to come and talk to me when you are suffering. I love it when you sing to me when you’re cheerful. It’s music to my ears. When you aren’t doing well, seek counsel. If you are sick, tell the elders so that they can pray for you and anoint you with oil in my name. The prayers of my kids are powerful. Whatever is going on, I love talking with you. Too many of my children get it in mind that they can only talk with me when they really need something fixed, but I just want to be with them. I already know everything you need and what you need most is Me. I am a gracious, merciful, forgiving Father and I cherish your words.
(16-18) But I have also created you to relate with others. Its great that you enjoy hanging out with other people, but I have also called you to something deeper. Get beneath the surface with a few people. Take off your mask and tell them what’s really going in inside. Be authentic with your sin. Then come and talk to me together. As I said, when you pray its powerful. Just think about Elijah. He prayed and it stopped raining for three and a half years! Prayer works, son.
(19-20) Finally, I know that since sin entered the world life on the narrow road is hard. Some of your friends are going to stumble. Some will fall. Some will wander. Get past your fears and go after them. I came after you, you do the same. You just may breathe new life—My life--into a dying man.