The letter from James
James wrote these words to God's people so that they would know how to live in this world. He told them that they should trust in God and do good all the time.
1 I am James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing this letter to you, God's people, and I will send it to all the different places where you are living. I am still thinking of you and I won't forget you.
About trusting in God and knowing what to do
2 My dear brothers and sisters, all kinds of troubles will come to you, but don't worry. You should be very happy, 3 because when you have any kind of trouble, you can keep on trusting God even more. When you trust in him, you will become strong so that you won't do anything wrong. 4 You must keep on being strong so that you will be perfect and you won't need anything more to be good people.
5 Maybe you will say to yourself, “What shall I do? What is the right thing for me to do?” Then you should say to God, “Father, what is right, and what is wrong? I don't know, so please help me to know,” because you don't know by yourself. God won't refuse, he will listen when you pray to him. He will listen to you and he will help you. He won't blame you for not knowing what to do.
6-8 When you pray to God, you must believe that he will really listen to you and help you. If you say to God, “Please help me,” then don't think to yourself, “God won't help me.” Don't have two minds like that.
Some people can't make up their minds. First they trust in God and then later they don't trust in him any longer. Those people are like the waves in the sea. The wind blows the sea this way and that way, and those people are like the sea. God doesn't help people like that to know what is right and what is wrong.
About poor people and rich people
9 Maybe one of you who belongs to God is poor. But God says, “You are important, you are special.” So you should be happy and remember that you belong to God.
10 Maybe another one of you who belongs to God has a lot of money. But God says, “You are rich but you are not important, you aren't special.” You should be happy too. You should not be proud, because you will die, just like the wild flowers die. 11 The hot sun dries the flowers and they aren't pretty any more. They die and fall. And you rich people are like that. You are busy with money because you have forgotten God. Like those flowers you too will die.
God does not tempt us to do wrong
12 You people who keep standing strong when troubles come to you, you should be happy. God will be pleased with you, and you will stay alive forever, because God has promised those who love him that they will stay alive forever.
13 When troubles come to you and you want to do wrong, don't say, “God is tempting me to do wrong.” God never tempts us to do wrong. So where does that wrong come from? It doesn't come from God, 14 but it is already there in your mind. That's what tempts you and nothing else. If you keep on and on thinking about it, then you will decide to do it. 15 And if you keep on wanting to do wrong and you are still thinking about it all the time, then you will do it. And if you keep on doing more wrong, you will die and God won't save you.
16 My dear brothers and sisters, don't be tricked but listen to these true words. 17 God our Father gives us everything that is good and perfect. He doesn't send us anything bad, and he doesn't send us some good and some bad things. He is the one who freely gives us everything perfect and he doesn't change. He made the sun and the moon and the stars and put them all in the sky. During the day our shadows fall on the ground. When the sun moves our shadows move. But God never changes. 18 God decided that we should be his children when we obey his true words. He wants us to be his children so that we will be very important. We will be more important than anything he has made.
About us obeying God
19 My dear brothers and sisters, don't forget this. You mustn't be always telling people God's word, you should listen to his word. And you mustn't get angry quickly. 20 When you get angry quickly you can't do the good things God wants you to do.
21 So get rid of all the bad things you are doing once and for all. Don't think about them any more. Don't be proud, but take in God's word that he puts in your mind and heart. That word will save you.
22 When you listen to God's word, you must do everything he has told you to do. If you listen to it and then you quickly forget it and don't do what God wants, you are tricking yourselves. You should listen to God's word and obey it.
23 If you listen to God's word but don't obey it, you are like someone who looks carefully at himself in a mirror. 24 Then he leaves the mirror and goes away. He quickly forgets what he has seen. And you are like that man if you hear God's word and don't obey it.
25 So you shouldn't do that. You should listen to God's word every day. His law is perfect and there is no other law perfect like his, because it sets us free. You should never forget it. You should keep listening to it and obeying it and doing what is right all the time. If you do that, God will make you happy.
26 One of you might say, “I obey God and I worship him.” But if you speak bad words, speaking carelessly all the time, you will not really be obeying and worshipping God. You will just be tricking yourself.
27 But if any of you are obeying God properly and worshipping him, you will help other people all the time. You are the ones our Father God will see as perfect. When children are sad because their fathers and mothers have died, you will help them. When a widow is sad after her husband has died, you will help her too. You will keep working busily all the time. And if bad people tempt you to do wrong you will take no notice but keep on being good.