Chapter OneStudy 1
It begins as a sneaking suspicion when things don't go well. As troubles
continue, a sense of doom or resignation can develop. "I must
be doing it wrong," we think. "This is too hard. Surely God did not
mean life to be such a struggle."
James takes a different point of view. Life is indeed a struggle, he
writes, and for a good purpose. Through difficulties we learn perseverance,
the art of "hanging in there." Christian growth, as James sees
it, is a process for which there are no shortcuts. It takes time for God
to teach us how to be mature people.
1. What was the hardest year of your life? How did that year
affect your character?
2. Read James 1:1-18. In your own words, how would you
define maturity (v. 4)?
3. What does James say is the role of trials in developing
4. If there are trials in your life that require special perseverance
just now, what kind of maturity do you see potentially
5. The Bible defines "wisdom" (v. 5) as skillful living-knowing
how to conduct your life in a way that leads to good results.
In what areas do you see people in our society showing a lack
6. What are the characteristics of a "double-minded" person
Why would such a person have trouble becoming wise and
7. Verses 9-11 imply that trials of life erase superficial distinctions
between the rich and the poor. Why would that be true?
How does the illustration of a wildflower make that point?
8. Verse 12 refers to the "crown of life" that God will someday
give those who love him. What do you understand this
"crown of life" to be, and how can anticipating it help us to
persevere during trials?
9. Sometimes people put the blame on God for their failings.
How does James describe the true origin of temptation (vv.
10. Some people regard temptation itself as sin, but the Bible
indicates that is not the case. How do we keep from crossing
the line from temptation to sin?
Do not relate the experience aloud to others, but try to think
of an occasion when you did not cross the line, or another
when you did. What were the results in your life? In others'
11. If we know God as the changeless "Father of the heavenly
lights" (v. 17), how will that knowledge of his character affect
the way we deal with trials and temptations?
12. Verse 18 says that God intends Christians to be "a kind of
firstfruits," which is the first crop a farmer harvests. What
does this image add to your idea of maturity?
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down
from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change
like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the
word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he
It is a good idea to "count your blessings," but we often apply that
only in the most obvious sense. James encourages us to see God's
blessing in periods of trial. During this week, draw up a list of various
trials you have undergone in the course of your life. For each one,
think about how you personally were affected. What aspects of your
character were "completed" during that period?
Trials Character developed