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. Christians should be servants too. In those days, servants were not free. They had to do everything that their master wanted. Some masters were bad and some were good. Christians are servants of God. He is the best master that anyone could have.
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 way to the end. Then you will grow as a believer. You will become completely how you should be. You will not need anything more.
1:4Life is sometimes very difficult. Christians may have trouble, like anyone else. Sometimes we are sick or we feel pain. Sometimes other people hurt us because we are Christians. God does not cause these troubles to happen to us. But God can use these troubles to help us to grow, because he loves us very much. Even pain can cause us to trust God more. If we ask him for help, he will answer us. He will help us to understand better. We must not think that God has made life difficult for us. We must trust him to use these troubles to make us stronger.
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. Anybody who is not sure that God will help him, is like the water that is 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.
1:15death 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 all people.
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 you to do what is right. But when someone is angry, he does not do those right things. 21 So, stop doing anything dirty. Stay away from the bad things that are all round 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 speak bad things against 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: Care for children who have no parents. Also care for women whose husbands have died. Help them in their troubles. If you serve God our Father like that, he will be happy with you. Do not let the bad people in this world make you dirty too.
1:27We must serve God in a way that pleases him. We need to help other people who have troubles. If we say that we are God's servants, but if we do not do what he wants, then God is not happy.