1 1I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello! Faith Under Pressure 2Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 3You know that under pressure, your faith–life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. 4So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well–developed, not deficient in any way. 5If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. 6Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind–whipped waves. 7Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, 8adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. 9When down–and–outers get a break, cheer! 10And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short–lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. 11You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing. 12Anyone who meets a testing challenge head–on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. 13Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. 14The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare–up of our own lust. 15Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer. 16So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. 17Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two–faced, nothing fickle. 18He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. Act on What You Hear 19Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. 20God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. 21So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation–garden of your life. 22Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! 23Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, 24walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. 25But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. 26Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self–deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. 27Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About