Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
James is writing his letter to “the twelve tribes in the Dispersion.” A reasonable argument can be made that this might include all Christians (e.g., Peter uses the phrase “elect exiles of the Dispersion” in 1 Pet 1:1 which is a triple implication of a Jewish audience, but he also addresses several particularly Gentile issues throughout the book. Maybe his address is to all Christians as “the new Israel”). But James’s audience most likely consists of Jewish Christians. Regardless of ethnic makeup, James seeks to exhort, encourage, and convict them. James sees that the world has permeated the church. People are succumbing to temptation at every turn. Wisdom seems to be a rare quality. Folks are acting toward one another in aggressive and even violent ways, imitative of nonbelievers and the weak-hearted. The trials that these people are facing have thrown them into a spiritual confusion that is carrying them away from God rather than toward him. At every turn there is the claim of religion without the practice of it. People have forgotten who they are and the One to whom they belong. As a result, they have become indistinguishable from the world around them. James’s book may be the most pertinent book for us in our world today. He reminds us that it is severe business to lose sight of God and his purpose in our lives. Like our ancient brothers and sisters, we must take care to be vigilant, humbly submitting ourselves to the will of the Father.