“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.” (James 1:17-18)
It is a little like reading the writer of the gospel of John – you have to put yourself in a mindset of spiritual living, and then squint a bit to get the meaning. The writer of James is saying, if I may paraphrase, that anything worth while (love, compassion, caring, mercy etc) comes from God as do the “blessings” that we find. Now, this may be directly from God or because fellow believers act with compassion etc toward one another. And it was God’s intent through Christ to give us this sort of life.
“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.” (Verses 19-21)
Further instructions as to how to live with one another and how to live reflecting God’s mercy and forgiveness of us. It is interesting to think about how the new/early Christians might be receiving this instruction, and for the first time comport their lives according to Jesus’ example. It is “scary”too (at least to me) to think about a world where people do NOT live like this, one with another.
“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:22-27)
Again, if I would paraphrase verses 23 to 25 I would say, keep God’s word and Christ’s example ever before you so you can and will remember how to act with and interact with others. If you do not, (to continue) then what ever you think your faith and that you are living out – you are fooling yourself. The last verse needs no paraphrase, beloved reader; it is my hope and prayer that this is one of the important focuses of your life. Selah!