The letter that James wrote
(The book in the Holy Bible called James)
About this letter
James wrote this letter about 2,000 years ago, about 20 years after Jesus went back to heaven, and now it is in the Holy Bible.
James was a young brother of Jesus, and after Jesus went back to heaven, James became a leader in the church in Jerusalem (see Mark 6:2-3; Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; 1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12-13).
James wrote this letter to the Christians in other churches to tell them how to be good Christians and live properly for Jesus.
These messages are very important for us today, just like they were for the Christians at that time.
I am James. I work for God and for our leader Jesus Christ. I am writing this letter to all God’s people that live in lots of places everywhere in the world. I hope you are all good and happy.*
If you get trouble
Listen, my Christian friends, you might get a lot of trouble sometimes. You might get different sorts of trouble. But don’t get upset about it. No, you can be happy about it, because it will make you strong for God. You see, if you get trouble, and if you keep on trusting God, then you will become really strong for God, and you will stay strong, even if more trouble comes. Then, after you learn to do that properly, you will be really strong. You will not miss out on any of those things that make you a good Christian.
Ask God to help you do the right thing
So if you want to properly understand what is the right thing to do, and if you want to learn how to be strong when you get trouble, just ask God to help you. He will not be angry with you. He is happy when you ask him for help like that, and he will help you and make you think properly. He will make you think the right way so that you will do the right thing. But whenever you ask him, you have to believe that he will answer you. Don’t think, “Maybe he will not listen to me.” No, don’t think like that. Anybody that thinks like that can’t stay strong. They are like a bit of dry grass. The wind just blows it around and it goes anywhere. 7-8 If you are like that, it is like you are thinking 2 ways at the same time, and you will not be sure about anything. If you are like that, you can’t think that God will help you at all.
Poor people and rich people
If Christians haven’t got much money, or if people don’t think they are important, they can be happy, because God thinks they are important. 10 But the Christians that are rich can be happy too, because they know that they are not important. They know that they need God, and that he will save them. You see, money can’t make people happy, and it can’t stop people from dying. People are like flowers that grow in the bush. 11 At first they look good, but later the sun gets hot and those little flowers die, and they don’t look good any more. That is a picture of people. Rich people might keep working to get more money, but they will still die, and then they will not have that money any more.*
Keep on believing
12 If God lets people test you, to see if you trust him properly, don’t give up trusting him. After God sees that you keep on trusting him, he will give you new life, so that you will live with him for ever. He promised to do that for everybody that loves him.
What makes us do wrong things?
13 Whenever you feel like you want to do something that is wrong, don’t blame God and say that he is pushing you to do something wrong. No way. God never pushes anybody to do wrong things, and nobody can trick God to make him do something wrong. 14-15 We do it to ourselves. Whenever we think about things we want for ourselves, and we don’t think about things God wants us to do, we just trick ourselves. Then we go ahead and do wrong things. You know, if we keep on doing those bad things, we will die.
God is good to us
16 Don’t let anybody trick you, my Christian friends. 17 Everything that is really good comes from God in heaven. He made the sun, and the moon, and the stars, up there in the sky that give us light. You know, they move around, and they make shadows that move and change around. But God does not change, like those things. He never changes at all, not even a little bit. He always gives us good things.*
18 He wanted us to be in his own family, so he sent his true word to us. And when we believed that word it was like we were born all over again. That’s how he made us his really special people.
Listen to God and do everything he says
19 Listen, my Christian friends, you have to be ready to listen to other people, and you have to stop and think before you say anything yourself. Stop and think before you get angry. 20 If you are angry, you can’t do the good things that God wants you to do. 21 So you have to stop doing all those things that are dirty and wrong. You have to listen properly to the word from God, that he put right inside you, and you have to do what it says. Don’t think that you are so good that you don’t need God’s word. No. You have to do what it says, then that word will save you.
22 And don’t just listen to that word from God, but you have to do everything it says too. If you don’t do the things it says, you will just trick yourself. 23-24 Don’t be like a man that looks at his face in a mirror, but then he just walks away, and he forgets about it. He doesn’t do anything to make himself look any better. Well, if you hear God’s word, but you don’t do the things it says, you are just like that man, because you forget that word, and you don’t do anything to make yourself any better. 25 Don’t be like that. You have to listen to God’s word and keep on thinking about it. Don’t forget it, but do everything it says. That word will make you free, so that you will do everything God wants. And God will make you really happy whenever you do the things he wants you to do.
26 You might go to church and think you are really good, but if you can’t stop yourself from saying bad things, you are really just tricking yourself, and going to church for nothing. 27 And God also wants you to look after people that need help. He wants you to look after people that haven’t got any money to buy food, like kids that haven’t got a mother or a father, or women whose husbands have died. If you do that sort of thing, God will be happy with you. But God will not be happy with you if you just look after yourself, like the people that belong to this world do.
* 1:1 Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Acts 15:13; Galatians 1:19 * 1:11 Isaiah 40:6-7 * 1:17 1 Samuel 15:29