Living Rightly by Knowing and Drawing Near to God

James saw himself as the servant of God. His letter is addressed to the new Israel of God, the twelve tribes scattered abroad, the church of Jesus Christ. Instead of being ensnared by the world, James 4:8 calls the church to draw near to God. Who then is this God? He is revealed in James’ words.

James 1 depicts Him as the generous source of true wisdom for those who trust Him in their sufferings. He will finally reward their love for Him. He is the Father of lights, the Giver of all good things, who is unchangeable, impartial, holy, and cannot be tempted by evil. He is the Saviour and Creator who sends His word to recreate us into His new creation.

James 2 points to Him as the God who grants the poor true spiritual riches of knowing Him, making them heirs of His kingdom. Demons shudder before Him. Yet He is a friend of Abraham. He grants righteousness to those marked by true working faith.

Conversely, James 3 says, He will judge those who teach others in hypocrisy. He made man in His image and is worthy of praise. Those who are inconsistent and hypocritical are unworthy of Him. The wisdom He grants will lead only to fruits of righteousness and peace.

James 4 further reveals Him not only as the Lawgiver, but also as a jealous Husband of His people and a wrathful Judge. He opposes the proud, yet is gracious to the humble and personal to those who draw near. He is the sovereign Lord who governs the universe and writes man’s history according to His will.

The good news is James 5 shows how He is for His people. He will avenge them when He brings history to its consummation. To us who are His people, He is merciful and compassionate, the healer of the sick, forgiving our sins, hearing our prayers. And He sends us to restore those who have wandered away from His truth.

What a God we serve! The wisdom of God, the glory of Jesus Christ, the future punishment of the disobedient and the blessedness of those who love Him undergird James’ instructions to live rightly. Authentic faith is wholesome living under His word, demonstrated in love and care to those inside and outside the church. This is the true worship and witness of God’s church, His newly reconstituted Israel, revealing His wisdom. Let’s become such a community by knowing and drawing near to Him!