James says ‘Hello’
1 This letter is from me, James. I am a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1:1James is the brother of Jesus, but he describes himself as a servant of Jesus Christ.
I am writing to the 12 tribes of God's people who live in many different parts of the world. I say ‘hello’ to all of you.
1:1This may mean all believers, wherever they live. There were 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament. They were God's people. Now all Christians are God's people.
What to do when you have troubles
2 My Christian friends, remember to be happy, even when many kinds of trouble happen to you. Troubles can help you. 3 God wants to see if you really trust him. Your faith in God will become stronger as a result of these troubles. 4 So you should continue to trust God all the time. Then you will become stronger as a believer. You will become completely how you should be. You will not need anything more.
5 But maybe you need to know how to be wise. Then ask God to help you. He is ready to give everyone what they need. And he never says that it is wrong to ask. So God will help you to be wise. 6 But when you ask God for something, you must trust him completely. Do not have other ideas in your mind. People who are not sure that God will help them are like the waves in the sea. The wind blows the water one way and then it blows the water another way. 7-8 A person who is like that never knows what to do. He has many ideas in his mind. He should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord.
9 The believers in your group who are poor should be happy. Why? Because God says that they are valuable to him. 10 And the believers who are rich should also be happy. Why? Because God has shown them that they are not so great. Rich people should remember that they will die, like a wild flower quickly dies. 11 When the sun rises, its heat causes plants to become dry. Their flowers fall to the ground. They are no longer beautiful. In the same way, rich people will die when they are busy in their work. Then they will have nothing.
12 Some people continue to trust God even when troubles happen. God will bless those people, if they show that they really trust him. He will give them the gift which is life with him. He has promised to give this gift to all people who love him.
13 When troubles happen to you, you may want to do something bad. But do not say, ‘God is causing me to do wrong things.’ Nothing can make God do anything bad. And God does not try to make anyone do a wrong thing. 14 It is our own thoughts that make us do bad things. When we want to do something wrong, our thoughts lead us in a bad way. 15 We may agree to do what our bad thoughts tell us to do. When we do that, it becomes a sin. Then, we may not stop doing those bad things. If we continue to live like that, the result of our sins is death.
1:15‘Death’ here means that we no longer have life with God. We become separate from God.
16 My Christian friends, do not make a mistake. 17 Remember that every good gift comes to us from God. He only does what will help us. He is our Father in heaven. He made everything in the sky that gives us light. Those things do not give us the same light all the time. They change, but God does not change. 18 He chose to make us his children. He used his true message to do that. Because of that, we are like the first special gift that belongs to him from among everything that he has made.
Listen and do what God wants
19 Understand this, my Christian friends: We must all be careful to listen. We should not be too quick to speak. We should not get angry quickly. 20 God wants us to do what is right. But when someone is angry, they do not do those right things. 21 So stop doing disgusting things. Stay away from the wicked things that are all around you. God has put his message deep inside you, and it can save you. So be careful to accept that message.
22 But be careful to do what God says in his message. Do not only listen to it. Do not make that mistake! 23 You must obey God's message. Do not be like a man who quickly looks at his face in a mirror. 24 That man looks at himself, but then he goes away. He immediately forgets what he is really like. 25 So do not just listen to God's message and then forget it. It is a completely good message that makes people free. Look at it carefully and keep it in your mind. Do what it tells you to do. God will bless anyone who lives in that way.
26 Maybe some of you think that you are serving God well. But if you also say bad things about people, you do not serve God well at all. You are doing something bad even when you think you are doing good things. 27 If you want to serve God in a completely good way, do things like this: Help children who have no parents and women who are widows. Help them in their troubles. If you serve God our Father like that, he will be pleased with you. Do not let the bad people in this world make you bad too.