James is a book about necessities. Our modern bookshelves are crowded with books about money management and investments, career success, strategic planning, beauty secrets and diets and exercise programs promising health and longevity. But what about the inner person, the spiritual, the connection with God?
Someone told me when I was young, “Be careful what you say, because your words can come back to hurt you and once said they can't be erased.” It is inevitable that James, teaching about the significance and power of living a Christian life, includes “the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits” (v. 5)
James the brother of Jesus, sometimes called “James the Just,” was one of the first leaders in the Jerusalem church, who urged the inclusion of non-Jews in that congregation. His letter is written in a practical voice, calling for consistent Christian living in a world that entices us with easy answers and goals of personal success. Being the people of God requires focusing on living each day with an eye on the future God has prepared.
You can count on James to tell the truth. This is not a contrast between “absolute truth” and “alternate truth.” This is a truth that shapes our daily living and clashes with all the twisted methods and self-serving phrases we so often use to win an argument or put others in their place. This short epistle focuses on the practical side of faith in Christ, how we are to live in this world of conflicts.