The author of the book of James in my opinion is the half brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are aware from scripture that Jesus did indeed have half brothers and sisters because Joseph was not Christ’s biological father, God is.
Concerning the Lord’s half brothers, we find them with Mary looking for Jesus in Matthew 12:46-50. In Matthew 13:55-56, the people of Nazareth say that they know His brothers and sisters, and they even name the brothers (James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas).
John 7:1-10 teaches that His brothers did not believe in Him as the Messiah. In this passage, it plainly says that they did not believe in Him. What I come to understand from a study of the Bible is that they probably did not believe until after the resurrection when the Lord appeared to James. Read 1 Corinthians 15:7. We also find the brothers and Mary in the upper room with the other believers following the ascension of Christ in Acts 1:14.
James went on to become a leader in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:13-21). Paul calls him The Lord’s brother in Galatians 1:19 and later discusses the Acts 15 account in Galatians 2. In Galatians 2, Paul identifies James as a leader in the church. The apostle calls James a pillar along with Peter and John in 2:9.
1. James is a slave to God, Christ, and the Jews.
Identifying himself as a the author of the book, James calls himself a slave. He is a slave to God, to Jesus, and to the Jews.
To be a slave means that one has a master. Many times when we hear the word slave, we have a negative reaction. We immediately remember what we have heard, and what we have been taught about slavery and America’s past. The slavery that James is talking about is one that he has placed himself into voluntarily. He gives his Master complete and full control over his will and spirit. He surrenders to God. Why wouldn’t he, think about all that God has done for him. Why wouldn’t you, think about all that God has done for you. Without even considering all that God has done for you, just think of one incident. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
In that one verse, Jesus voluntarily surrendered His will to the will of the Father. He became obedient to the point of death that you and I might have life. We owe God the Father and Jesus ourselves too.
James ministered to the Lord by serving others. Remember, he was a leader in the church at Jerusalem. There he prayed, preached and taught, gave leadership to the people, and served God by ministering to others.
2. As a believer, James’ life was not easy.
Know that James’ life was not without hardships. After all he was the younger half brother of Jesus. He probably spent his early years speculating about who his older brother was, and he may have spent the later years regretting the fact that he did not accept Christ earlier. The rest of his life was spent dealing with the persecution that began in the book of Acts and continued after the stoning of a man named Steven.
During James’ hardships, he learned an important truth. Trials of faith produce endurance; and endurance (perseverance, or patience) ends in a perfect result. What this means is that you have grown in your own faith. You have discovered that in Christ, you are made perfect and complete; and that going through your trials with God, you will lack nothing. Tradition teaches that during his hard times, James spent so much time on his knees in prayer that they became as callous as the knees of camels.
3. James was a man of faith.
In the first chapter of his book, James uses verse 5-8 to teach his readers to have faith. He writes, “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” He reminds you and me of one reason why he has decided to be God’s slave. He writes that God is gracious, and James knows that God is so good to give you and me what we ask for.
The writer continues saying ask in faith. His illustration is one of the sea. Think about the sea as the wind begins to roar. Waves are tossed in every direction. There seems to be nothing but chaos and indecisiveness. This is what James uses to describe you and me when we don’t put our faith in God. He says, “a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways.”
Have you ever prayed about something that was really burdening you? Perhaps you got down on your knees in an attempt to leave the burden with God, but after you finished praying, you stood up and walked away with the burden. The reality is that you didn’t trust God to handle your situation. You were putting more trust in yourself or something tangible that you could see instead of God. He wants you to trust Him.
Trusting God is a learning experience. As you grow in your faith, you may have to lay your burden down daily or even hourly. Regardless, keep laying them down.
Learning to trust God during you trials requires faith and patience. During your tough time, ask God for wisdom and strength, and faithfully wait on Him. Your faithful patience will cause you to have a joy that springs up from within. It will cause you to continue trusting in God for every circumstance. It will lead to a perfect result. You will be perfectly complete and lacking nothing.
James concludes this passage writing, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”