1I, James, am writing this letter. I serve God and the Lord Jesus Christ. I am sending this letter to you, the 12 tribes that are scattered among the nations. Greetings.2My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy.3Your faith will be put to the test. You know that when that happens it will produce in you the strength to continue.4The strength to keep going must be allowed to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need.5If any of you need wisdom, ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone. He doesn't find fault.6But when you ask, you must believe. You must not doubt. People who doubt are like waves of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around.7A man like that shouldn't expect to receive anything from the Lord.8He can't make up his mind. He can never decide what to do.9A believer who finds himself in a low position in life should be proud that God has given him a high position.10But someone who is rich should take pride in his low position. That's because he will fade away like a wild flower.11The sun rises. Its burning heat dries up the plants. Their blossoms fall. Their beauty is destroyed. In the same way, a rich person will fade away even as he goes about his business.12Blessed is the man who keeps on going when times are hard. After he has come through them, he will receive a crown. The crown is life itself. God has promised it to those who love him.13When you are tempted, you shouldn't say, "God is tempting me." God can't be tempted by evil. And he doesn't tempt anyone.14But your own evil longings tempt you. They lead you on and drag you away.15When they are allowed to grow, they give birth to sin. When sin has grown up, it gives birth to death.16My dear brothers and sisters, don't let anyone fool you.17Every good and perfect gift is from God. It comes down from the Father. He created the heavenly lights. He does not change like shadows that move.18God chose to give us new birth through the message of truth. He wanted us to be the first and best of everything he created.19My dear brothers and sisters, pay attention to what I say. Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry.20A man's anger doesn't produce the kind of life God wants.21So get rid of everything that is dirty and sinful. Get rid of the evil that is all around us. Don't be too proud to accept the word that is planted in you. It can save you.22Don't just listen to the word. You fool yourselves if you do that. You must do what it says.23Suppose you listen to the word but don't do what it says. Then you are like a man who looks at his face in a mirror.24After looking at himself, he leaves. Right away he forgets what he looks like.25But suppose you take a good look at the perfect law that gives freedom. You keep looking at it. You don't forget what you've heard, but you do what the law says. Then you will be blessed in what you do.26Suppose you think your beliefs are right because of how you live. But you don't control what you say. Then you are fooling yourselves. Your beliefs are not worth anything at all.27Here are the kinds of beliefs that God our Father accepts as pure and without fault. When widows and children who have no parents are in trouble, take care of them. And keep yourselves from being polluted by the world.
1My brothers and sisters, you are believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. So treat everyone the same.2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes. And suppose a poor man in worn-out clothes also comes in.3Would you show special attention to the one who is wearing fine clothes? Would you say, "Here's a good seat for you"? Would you say to the poor person, "You stand there"? Or "Sit on the floor by my feet"?4If you would, aren't you treating some people better than others? Aren't you like judges who have evil thoughts?5My dear brothers and sisters, listen to me. Hasn't God chosen those who are poor in the world's eyes to be rich in faith? Hasn't he chosen them to receive the kingdom? Hasn't he promised it to those who love him?6But you have put poor people down. Aren't rich people taking advantage of you? Aren't they dragging you into court?7Aren't they speaking evil things against the worthy name of Jesus? Remember, you belong to him.8The royal law is found in Scripture. It says, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."(Leviticus 19:18) If you really keep that law, you are doing what is right.9But you sin if you don't treat everyone the same. The law judges you because you have broken it.10Suppose you keep the whole law but trip over just one part of it. Then you are guilty of breaking all of it.11God said, "Do not commit adultery."(Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18) He also said, "Do not commit murder."(Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17) Suppose you don't commit adultery but do commit murder. Then you have broken the Law.12Speak and act like people who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.13Those who have not shown mercy will not receive mercy when they are judged. To show mercy is better than to judge.14My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people claim they have faith but don't act like it? Can that kind of faith save them?15Suppose a brother or sister has no clothes or food.16Suppose one of you says to them, "Go. I hope everything turns out fine for you. Keep warm. Eat well." And you do nothing about what they really need. Then what good have you done?17It is the same with faith. If it doesn't cause us to do something, it's dead.18But someone will say, "You have faith. I do good works." Show me your faith that doesn't do good works. And I will show you my faith by what I do.19You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that. And they tremble!20You foolish man! Do you want proof that faith without good works is useless?21Our father Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar. Wasn't he considered to be right with God because of what he did?22So you see that what he believed and what he did were working together. What he did made his faith complete.23That is what Scripture means where it says, "Abraham believed God. God accepted Abraham because he believed. So his faith made him right with God."(Genesis 15:6) And that's not all. God called Abraham his friend.24So you see that a person is made right with God by what he does. It doesn't happen only because of what he believes.25Didn't God make even Rahab the prostitute right with him? That's because of what she did. She gave the spies a place to stay. Then she sent them off in a different direction.26The body without the spirit is dead. In the same way, faith without good works is dead.
1My brothers and sisters, most of you shouldn't want to be teachers. You know that those of us who teach will be held more accountable.2All of us get tripped up in many ways. Suppose someone is never wrong in what he says. Then he is a perfect man. He is able to keep his whole body under control.3We put a bit in the mouth of a horse to make it obey us. We can control the whole animal with it.4And how about ships? They are very big. They are driven along by strong winds. But they are steered by a very small rudder. It makes them go where the captain wants to go.5In the same way, the tongue is a small part of the body. But it brags a lot. Think about how a small spark can set a big forest on fire.6The tongue also is a fire. The tongue is the most evil part of the body. It pollutes the whole person. It sets a person's whole way of life on fire. And the tongue is set on fire by hell.7People have controlled all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea. They still control them.8But no one can control the tongue. It is an evil thing that never rests. It is full of deadly poison.9With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. With our tongues we call down curses on people. We do it even though they have been created to be like God.10Praise and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, it shouldn't be that way.11Can fresh water and salt water flow out of the same spring?12My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives? Can a grapevine bear figs? Of course not. And a saltwater spring can't produce fresh water either.13Are any of you wise and understanding? You should show it by living a good life. Wise people aren't proud when they do good works.14But suppose your hearts are jealous and bitter. Suppose you are concerned only about getting ahead. Don't brag about it. Don't say no to the truth.15Wisdom like that doesn't come down from heaven. It belongs to the earth. It doesn't come from the Holy Spirit. It comes from the devil.16Are you jealous? Are you concerned only about getting ahead? Then your life will be a mess. You will be doing all kinds of evil things.17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is pure. That's the most important thing about it. And that's not all. It also loves peace. It thinks about others. It obeys. It is full of mercy and good fruit. It is fair. It doesn't pretend to be what it is not.18Those who make peace should plant peace like a seed. If they do, it will produce a crop of right living.
1Why do you fight and argue among yourselves? Isn't it because of your sinful longings? They fight inside you.2You want something, but you can't get it. You kill and want what others have. But you can't have what you want. You argue and fight. You don't have what you want, because you don't ask God.3When you do ask for something, you don't receive it. Why? Because you ask for the wrong reason. You want to spend your money on your sinful pleasures.4You are not faithful to God. Don't you know that to be a friend of the world is to hate God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.5Don't you know what Scripture says? The spirit that God caused to live in us wants us to belong only to God. Don't you think Scripture has a reason for saying that?6God continues to give us more grace. That's why Scripture says, "God opposes those who are proud. But he gives grace to those who are not." (Proverbs 3:34)7So obey God. Stand up to the devil. He will run away from you.8Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Make your hearts pure, you who can't make up your minds.9Be full of sorrow. Cry and sob. Change your laughter to crying. Change your joy to sadness.10Bow down to the Lord. He will lift you up.11My brothers and sisters, don't speak against one another. Anyone who speaks against another believer speaks against the law. And anyone who judges another believer judges the law. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it. Instead, you are acting as if you were its judge.12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge. He is the One who is able to save life or destroy it. But who are you to judge your neighbor?13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city. We will spend a year there. We will buy and sell and make money."14You don't even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is a mist that appears for a little while. Then it disappears.15Instead, you should say, "If it pleases the Lord, we will live and do this or that."16As it is, you are proud. You brag about it. That kind of bragging is evil.17So when you know the good things you should do and don't do them, you sin.
1You rich people, listen to me. Cry and sob, because you will soon be suffering.2Your riches have rotted. Moths have eaten your clothes.3Your gold and silver have lost their brightness. Their dullness will give witness against you. Your wanting more and more will eat your body like fire. You have stored up riches in these last days.4You have even failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields. Their pay is crying out against you. The cries of those who gathered the harvest have reached the ears of the Lord who rules over all.5You have lived an easy life on earth. You have given yourselves everything you wanted. You have made yourselves fat like cattle that will soon be butchered.6You have judged and murdered people who aren't guilty. And they weren't even opposing you.7Brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord comes. See how the farmer waits for the land to produce its rich crop. See how patient he is for the fall and spring rains.8You too must be patient. You must stand firm. The Lord will soon come back.9Brothers and sisters, don't find fault with one another. If you do, you will be judged. And the Judge is standing at the door!10Brothers and sisters, think about the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. They are an example of how to be patient when you suffer.11As you know, we think that people who don't give up are blessed. You have heard that Job was patient. And you have seen what the Lord finally did for him. The Lord is full of tender mercy and loving concern.12My brothers and sisters, don't take an oath when you make a promise. Don't call on heaven or earth or anything else to back up what you say. Let your "Yes" be yes. And let your "No" be no. If you don't, you will be judged.13Are any of you in trouble? Then you should pray. Are any of you happy? Then sing songs of praise.14Are any of you sick? Then send for the elders of the church to pray over you. Ask them to anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord.15The prayer offered by those who have faith will make you well. The Lord will heal you. If you have sinned, you will be forgiven.16So admit to one another that you have sinned. Pray for one another so that you might be healed. The prayer of a godly person is powerful. It makes things happen.17Elijah was just like us. He prayed hard that it wouldn't rain. And it didn't rain on the land for three and a half years.18Then he prayed again. That time it rained. And the earth produced its crops.19My brothers and sisters, suppose one of you wanders away from the truth and someone brings you back.20Then here is what I want everyone to remember. Anyone who turns a sinner from going down the wrong path will save him from death. God will erase many sins by forgiving him.