Having read the Biblical text and the handout, please respond to any or all of the questions listed below. In order to encourage dialogue with others, please refer to the question number in your response.
Think about when you have been in great shape physically. How does this compare and contrast to being in good shape spiritually?
Read James 1:1-18.
No pain. No gain. Or so the saying goes. Athletes remind themselves of this to get their best possible performance and sometimes they have to go through grueling training. Without it, there is no improvement. James suggests it is the same for Christians.
- How are temptations different from trials (vv 2-16)?
- Martin Luther, when speaking of temptation, famously said, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from nesting in your hair”. James also makes a distinction between evil desire and sin. The first leads to the second, but the two are not the same. Think about the evil desires and sins you wrestle with. How would you explain the difference between the two?
- When you have been tempted by a desire to gossip or shade the truth or lust or get angry, what have you found helpful in keeping that desire from giving birth to sin?
- What good habits have you seen shape your character or the character of others?
- As was said in part three, God wants character that is not “blown and tossed by the wind” but one that is stable and unchanging like that of God our Father (1: 6, 17). How can we develop a more stable faith, the kind James describes?
- It can seem strange that we should consider trials and tests a cause for joy. After working through this first part of James, how might you begin to explain why we can, in fact, see trials with joy?
- One of the best ways to appreciate God’s dependability is to recall the different ways he has shown his faithfulness in the past. How have you seen God’s reliability— his “good and perfect gifts,” his unchanging character— at work?
Le Peau, Andrew T.; Le Peau, Phyllis J. (2013-05-01). A Deeper Look at James: Faith That Works (LifeGuide® In Depth Series) (Kindle Locations 384-391). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.