1From James, a servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ.1.1: Mt 13.55; Mk 6.3; Ac 15.13; Ga 1.19.
Greetings to the twelve tribes scattered all over the world.1.1 twelve tribes scattered all over the world: James is saying that the Lord's followers are like the tribes of Israel that were scattered everywhere by their enemies.
A life of faith and wisdom
2My friends, be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. 3You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. 4But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything.
5If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won't correct you for asking. 6But when you ask for something, you must have faith and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like an ocean wave tossed around in a storm. 7-8If you are that kind of person, you can't make up your mind, and you can't be trusted. So don't expect the Lord to give you anything at all.
Poor people and rich people
9Any of God's people who are poor should be glad that he thinks so highly of them. 10But any who are rich should be glad when God makes them humble. Rich people will disappear like wild flowers1.10,11: Is 40.6,7 (LXX). 11scorched by the burning heat of the sun. The flowers lose their blossoms, and their beauty is destroyed. That is how the rich will disappear, as they go about their business.
Trials and temptations
12God will bless you, if you don't give up when your faith is being tested. He will reward you with a glorious life,1.12 a glorious life: The Greek text has “the crown of life”. In ancient times an athlete who had won a contest was rewarded with a crown of flowers as a sign of victory. just as he rewards everyone who loves him.
13Don't blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn't use evil to tempt others. 14We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. 15Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead.
16Don't be fooled, my dear friends. 17Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father who created all the lights in the heavens. He is always the same and never makes dark shadows by changing. 18He wanted us to be his own special people,1.18 his own special people: The Greek text has “the first of his creatures”. The Law of Moses taught that the firstborn of all animals and the first part of the harvest were special and belonged to the Lord. and so he sent the true message to give us new birth.
Hearing and obeying God's message
19My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. 20If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done. 21You must stop doing anything immoral or evil. Instead be humble and accept the message that is planted in you to save you.
22Obey God's message! Don't fool yourselves by just listening to it. 23If you hear the message and don't obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror 24and forget what they look like as soon as they leave. 25But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don't just hear and forget.
26If you think you are being religious, but can't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and everything you do is useless. 27Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.
Contemporary English Version (CEV) is copyright © American Bible Society. Psalms and Proverbs © 1991, 1992; New Testament © 1991, 1992, 1995; Old Testament © 1995; translation notes, subject headings for text © 1995; Anglicisations © The British and Foreign Bible Society 1997, 2012.