James continues his letter on topics concerning the Christian lifestyle and principles of God’s kingdom.
My translation and notes on James 1:9-15
Believers Should Be Content in Life’s Status
9 Let the brother of humble circumstances rejoice in that he is exalted,
[The Greek word for ‘humble circumstances’ is (G5011) ταπεινός tapeinós, which means low to the ground and applied in different ways. Here, it means socioeconomic status, not just financial status. It can be applied to an attitude as to the Lord Jesus in Matthew 11:29, believers in James 4:6, and 1 Peter 5:5, emotional state as in 2 Corinthians 7:6, or socioeconomic status as here and Romans 12:16. Believers are exalted from the hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2 and 1 John 5:11), adoption into the family of God (Romans 8:23 and John 1:12), a loving Savior (Galatians 2:20), the crown rewards (1 Corinthians 9:25-27, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, and 1 Peter 5:2-4), heaven (John 14:1-4), and spiritual riches (Ephesians 1:3)].
10 but the rich in that he is made low, because like the flower of the grass, he will perish.
11 For the sun is no sooner risen with its burning heat, and it withers the grass, its flower falls, and its beauty perishes, so also the rich man will fade away.
[Most think having much money and possessions is good and an indication of God’s blessings (because they are so wonderful). See Matthew 19:16-22 where Jesus clarified and spoke truth to that young man. Jesus’s sayings are still true. We need to learn contentment. The poor and rich believers have the riches of heaven as joint heirs of Christ (Romans 8:17). The rich have opportunity to further the kingdom instead of hoarding. Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Also see Philippians 4:11-12, 1 Timothy 6:8, and Hebrews 13:5].
Believers Should Remain Steadfast in Faith While in Trials
12 Blessed [is] the person who patiently endures temptation, for when he has passed the test, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love him.
[The Greek word for ‘temptation’ is (G3986) πειρασμός peirasmos. It means an attempt to learn the nature or character of something—BDAG. Compare 1 Peter 4:12. This temptation is a test of loyalty to Christ. Will I be faithful or not? This temptation/testing is allowed by God because the devil wishes to overthrow our faith. The devil wants us to deny Christ. That is the temptation—undergo this trial to try and force us to deny Jesus. There are a number of crowns given to believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10). See note at 1 Peter 5:1-4. These are rewards for service and faithfulness, not salvation. Yet, if not for the assisting grace of God, we could not endure testings and pass the test. See Jude 1:24-25, Romans 8:26-27, and Hebrews 4:16. In Revelation 2:10 the Smyrna congregation was warned that the devil was going to have believers committed to prison for 10 days, that they will be tested/tempted to deny Jesus and needed to be faithful even if they were to be killed. The blessing to these believers is the Crown of life. When we keep the faith in times of trial, testing, and persecution, then Jesus has promised the Crown of Life. The believers already have life—eternal life. This is a crown of victory and signet of withstanding the trial faithfully].
Believers Should Know That Temptation Is Not From God
13 Let no one say when tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither does he tempt anyone.
[Too often we want to blame God for our problems. “Why did it turn out this way. I prayed and prayed. Why did God do this to me?” God did not do this to you. He allows trials, testing, temptation to build endurance. He also allows it so we will have experiences of trial and experiences of victory by God’s grace. This experience then can be an encouragement to those going through a similar trial (1 Corinthians 1:3-4). See 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Romans 5:4, James 1:3, Revelation 14:12, and Romans 15:5].
14 Everyone is tempted, when each is drawn away by our own lust, and enticed.
[The devil gives the opportunity. He knows what elicits lust. He knew that Eve wanted to learn, so that was his method of operation. Building on that godly desire, the devil twisted the desire to learn and be wise into an evil desire. So, it is for all of us. Something catches our eye that looks good, which awakens our desire/lust, etc. James speaks here as one who has experienced this. God provides for an escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) and knows how to deliver us (2 Peter 2:9). He is always the Savior].
15 Then, when lust has conceived, it produces sin, and when sin matures, it produces death.
[The Bible speaks of earning death for the wages of sin is death—Romans 6:23. Lust is desire to have something for sinful pleasure. The object of lust is usually something not needed. Lust arises from our evil heart (Mark 7:20-23). Lust starts as a passing thought that is meditated on, motivating sin (coveting), and leading to death. Sin kills. Sin is disobeying God’s laws. The Bible teaches accountability (Matthew 12:36-37, Acts 17:31, Romans 14:12, and Jeremiah 17:10].