The General Letters
This is part of ‘the epistles*’. The word epistles* means ‘letters’. The leaders of the new church* wrote these letters. Peter, James, and John wrote most of the general letters. These letters tell the readers how to live as God’s people. The letters remind them that God will keep his promises.
THE NEW TESTAMENT | THE GENERAL LETTERS
PEOPLE TO KNOW
PLACES TO GO
Find joy when your faith* is tested.
God gives good gifts.
Care about everyone.
Be careful with your tongue.
Be patient when you suffer.
The book of James is a letter. In that way, it is just like the other letters. But James is also different. In some ways, James is like the wisdom books in the Old Testament*. It is filled with wise sayings much like the books of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes.
James told you how to live as you followed Jesus. He talked about many things. But he talked most about two things. He talked about suffering. And he talked about how to obey the Scriptures*. The book of Hebrews ends with those two lessons. James wrote his whole letter about them.
James said many things about how to become wise. You began by asking God to make you wise. God gave wisdom. He helped people know how to pass the test when they suffered. The tests made us stronger when we trusted* God to help us. God made our faith* stronger when we trusted* him and did not doubt.
God’s people may suffer. They may be tested by problems. But God used the tests. He could make people strong. God used the tests as a tool to make people wise. But God’s wisdom was not the same as man’s wisdom. God’s wisdom did not make people proud. God gave wisdom that brings peace*.
When God gave us wisdom, it taught us how to live. God’s wisdom helped us to be humble. It showed us that we must not care about rich people more than we care about poor people. James wanted people to remember the words of Jesus,
‘love your neighbour as yourself’.
God’s wisdom also helped people do good work. They listened to God’s words. And they did not forget what God said. They obeyed the things that God told them to do. They served God and served other people too. The person who was wise said ‘yes’ to God’s words.
James also said that wise people controlled their tongue. The tongue was a part of the body that was hard to control. But God helped his people tame their tongue. Wise people used wise words. Wise people spoke words that blessed* God. They did not curse* people. They did not fight and argue with each other. They wanted to have the things that God wanted them to have.
James wrote to people who would suffer because they believed in Jesus. So he wrote to give them hope*. He told them to be patient. The Lord* was coming. The rich and the proud may succeed now. But God would judge the rich and the proud when he returned. And he would give his people good things. So he told them to be patient – just like Job was patient. And they must believe God and pray – just like Elijah did.
Wise people helped each other find the way. When people followed the wrong way, wise people brought them back to the right way.
If you wanted to live well and be wise, James is filled words that would help you.