The Callused Knees: A Man Sent From God Whose Name Was John

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He said when , not if you fall into various trials. At the same time trials are occasions for joy , not discouraged resignation. We can count it all joy in the midst of trials because they are used to produce patience. Moffatt translated James as, Greet it as pure joy , pointing out a play on word between the Greetings at the end of James , and a similar word used to start James The older King James Version says, when ye fall into divers temptations ; but the rendering trials in the New King James Version is preferred. Patience is the ancient Greek word hupomone. This word does not describe a passive waiting but an active endurance.

The ancient Greek word hupomone comes from hupo under and meno to stay, abide, remain. At its root, it means to remain under. It has the picture of someone under a heavy load and choosing to stay there instead of trying to escape. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience : Faith is tested through trials, not produced by trials. We notice that it is faith that is tested, and it shows that faith is important and precious — because only precious things are tested so thoroughly.

If trials do not produce faith, what does? Romans tells us: So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. James did not want anyone to think that God sends trials to break down or destroy our faith; therefore, he will come back to this point in James Yet patience is not inevitably produced in times of trial. If difficulties are received in unbelief and grumbling, trials can produce bitterness and discouragement. This is why James exhorted us to count it all joy.

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing : The work of patient endurance comes slowly and must be allowed to have full bloom. Patient endurance is a mark of the person who is perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If the bridge reach but half-way over the brook, we shall have but ill-favoured passage. Others think that the terms come from the world of sacrifice, where only a potential sacrificial animal that was judged to be perfect and complete, lacking nothing was fit to offer God.

It meant that the animal had been tested and approved. A man is very apt to become unbelieving under affliction: that is a sin. He is apt to murmur against God under it: that is a sin. He is apt to put forth his hand to some ill way of escaping from his difficulty: and that would be sin. Yet, trials can prove a wonderful work of God in us. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. If any of you lacks wisdom : Trials bring a necessary season to seek wisdom from God. Once in a time of trial, we need to know if a particular trial is something God wants us to eliminate by faith or persevere in by faith.

This requires wisdom. In trials, we need wisdom a lot more than we need knowledge. Knowledge is raw information but wisdom knows how to use it. Someone once said that knowledge is the ability to take things apart, but wisdom is the ability to put things together. Let him ask of God : To receive wisdom, we simply ask of God — who gives wisdom generously liberally , and without despising our request without reproach. God does indeed give liberally. We understand that He is the God of the open hand, not the God of the clenched fist. When we want wisdom, the place to begin and end is the Bible.

The language here implies humility in coming to God. The beggar asks an alms. You are to ask as the beggar asks of you in the street, and God will give to you far more liberally than you give to the poor. You must confess that you have no merit of your own. We notice that not only must one come in faith , but one must also ask in faith ; and this is where the prayers of many people fail. With no doubting… let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord : The one who doubts and lacks faith should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. This lack of faith and trust in God also shows that we have no foundation, being unstable in all our ways.

A wave of the sea is a fitting description of one who is hindered by unbelief and unnecessary doubts. A double-minded man, unstable in all his ways : To ask God but to ask Him in a doubting way, shows that we are double-minded. If we had no faith, we would never ask at all. If we had no unbelief, we would have no doubting. To be in the middle ground between faith and unbelief is to be double-minded. According to Hiebert, double-minded is literally two-souled.

He wanted to believe, and declared his belief. Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation : As much as it is appropriate for the lowly to rejoice when they are lifted up by God, so it is appropriate but far more difficult for the high the rich to rejoice when they are brought to humiliation by trials. By faith in Christ the two are equals. Though we can understand the relative poverty and riches as trials or tests of a living faith that a Christian may deal with, it nonetheless seems that James has made a sudden shift in his subject, from trials and wisdom to riches and humility. In some ways, the Book of James is like the Book of Proverbs or other Old Testament wisdom literature, and it can jump from topic to topic and back again to a previous topic.

Because as a flower of the field he will pass away : Trials serve to remind the rich and the high that though they are comfortable in this life, it is still only this life , which fades as the grass grows brown and the flowers fade away. In the land of Israel there are many kinds of beautiful flowers that spring to life when the rains come, but they last for only a short time before withering away. On the scale of eternity, this is how quickly the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. The riches of this world will certainly fade away — but James says that the rich man also will fade away.

If we put our life and our identity into things that fade away , we will fade away also.

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How much better to put our life and our identity into things that will never fade! If a man is only rich in this world, when he dies, he leaves his riches. But if a man is rich before God, when he dies, he goes to his riches. Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. In those great statements of blessing, Jesus did not tell us the only ways we can be blessed. Here we learn we can be blessed as we endure temptation.

For when he has been approved : Here James states the purpose of God in allowing temptation. The purpose is to approve us; that through the testing we would be revealed as genuine and strong in our faith. Who endures temptation : Temptation is one of the various trials James we face. As we persevere through temptation, we are approved , and will be rewarded as the work of God in us is evident through our resistance of temptation. The crown of life which the Lord has promised : James reminds us that it really is worth it to endure under the temptations we face.

Our steadfastness will be rewarded as we demonstrate our love for Jesus to those who love Him by resisting temptation.


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To those who love Him : This describes the motive for resisting temptation, because of our love for God. The passions of sinful temptation can only really be overcome by a greater passion, and that is a passion for the honor and glory and relationship with God. Some resist temptation because of the fear of man.

The thief suddenly becomes honest when he sees a policeman. Others resist the temptation to one sin because of the power of another sin. But the best motive for resisting temptation is to love Him ; to love Him with greater power and greater passion than your love for the sin. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Though He allows it, He Himself does not entice us to evil, though God may test our faith without a solicitation to evil nor does He Himself tempt anyone. James knew that most people have an evil tendency to blame God when they find themselves in trials. Yet by His very nature, God is unable to either be tempted in the sense we are tempted, as James will explain , nor does He Himself tempt anyone. God sometimes allows great tests to come to His people, even some who might be thought of as His favorites.

Other times He may send tests as a form of judgment upon those who have rejected Him, such as sending a spirit to bring deception 1 Kings or departing from a man and refusing to answer him 1 Samuel Yet in no case does God entice a person to evil. Instead, temptation comes when we are drawn away by our own fleshly desires and enticed — with the world and the devil providing the enticement. Satan certainly tempts us, but the only reason temptation has a hook in us is because of our own fallen nature, which corrupts our God-given desires.

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We often give Satan too much credit for his tempting powers and fail to recognize that we are drawn away by our own desires. Some people practically beg Satan to tempt them. Some who like to emphasize the sovereignty of God say that God is responsible for all things. By no means; for their hearts are subjected to depraved lusts, because they are already corrupt and vicious.


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When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin : Springing forth from corrupt desire is sin. Springing forth from sin is death. This progression to death is an inevitable result that Satan always tries to hide from us, but we should never be deceived about. Sin, being brought forth , immediately acts, and is nourished by frequent repetition, until at length it gains such strength that in its turn it begets death.

This is the true genealogy of sin and death. If we remember that Satan only comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy John , then we can more effectively resist the deceptions of temptation. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above : We expect no true goodness from our own fallen natures and from those who would entice us. But every good and every perfect gift comes from God the Father in heaven. Of course, the ultimate goodness of any gift must be measured on an eternal scale. Something that may seem to be only good such as winning money in a lottery may in fact be turned to our destruction.

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There is no variation with Him. Zebedee had a house in Jerusalem and was known as a friend of the High Priest, Caiaphas, and his household. This would mark Him as a man of social position. This would also make James a cousin to Jesus after the flesh. James worked in partnership with his father and brothers and was busy with his boats and nets when the call of Christ reached him. His name is coupled with his brother John in the lists of the apostles, which could mean that when they were sent forth two by two, James and John would be paired.

He was on terms of special intimacy with Christ, although he never attained the distinction of his brother John. His life came to an untimely end when he was martyred by Herod Agrippa. The cup and the baptism of pain and death were his. Seventeen years passed between his call to service and his death.

He was the second of the martyrs and the first of the apostles to give his life for Christ. We have no word from his pen nor word he spoke unless Acts be an exception, but James was content to be a disciple. He never sought fame, power, a great name. He had no ambition to be first. The son of Alphaeus Matt. Evidently he did nothing that needed any record. We do know that this son of Alphaeus was called the Little not the Less. He had a brother Joses , who was also a believer Mark ; ; John Tradition says that he had been a tax-gatherer.

It may be his father Alphaeus was the same Alphaeus who was the father of Levi the tax-gatherer, who became Matthew the Apostle. Acute controversy has raged around whether this James was an actual brother of Christ and also one of the Twelve. Because of his relationship to Christ we deem it necessary to devote a little more attention to this honorable James. How exactly was he related to the Lord?

Various explanations have been given of this third James. He was a child of Joseph by a former marriage. Those like the Roman Catholics, who argue for the perpetual virginity of Mary, are against our Lord having any natural relatives apart from His mother. The language of the passages cited under this James indicates that he had a relationship with Christ within rather than without the immediate family of Joseph and Mary.

The facts are these:. He is spoken of as being among the sisters and brothers of Christ Matt. There can be no doubt, however, that he did not remain unmoved by the goodness, unselfishness and example of Christ. Living with Him for almost thirty years must have left its impact upon James.

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