THINK: Do you ever forget a face? Probably so - but not your own! It's an absurd notion that you would forget what you look like after walking away from a mirror. Yet, that's what it's like to read or hear God's Word but then fail to take action. Looking into the Word provides a reflection that reveals the way you really are and helps you see what needs to change. But if you go your own way without responding to what the Word reveals about your life, then you'll never truly retain the Word. In order for God's Word to become part of your life you must live what you learn.
RESPOND: What are "trials of many kinds" (v. 2), and why can you face them with joy? (See 1:2 note.) In what way do trials help you grow and mature? (See 1:4 note.) How would you define wisdom, and where can you get it? (See 1:5 note.) What does it mean to be "double-minded" (v. 8), and why does that keep people from receiving from God? What does it mean, "The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position."? (See 1:9-10 note.) What are the differences between trials and tempta- tions? (See 1:13 note.) How should your approach and response to "trials" differ from your response to temptations? What or who is the source of temptations? (See 1:13 note, sub point 3, and 1:14 note.) Left to ourselves, without relying on the Holy Spirit, where will our own desires eventually lead us? (See 1:15 note.) What are the implications of the fact that God "does not change" (v. 17)? In what way do we deceive ourselves by merely listening to God's Word but not doing what it says? (See 1:22 note.) How is looking into God's Word like looking into a mirror? (See 1:23 note.) How is failing to put the Word into practice like walking away from a mirror and forgetting what you look like? (See 1:24 note.) What is "the perfect law that gives freedom"? (See 1:25 note.) What kind of "religion" does God accept as "pure and faultless"? (See 1:27 note.) How should this "religion" relate to others and how should it affect your own life?
PRAY: Ask God to help you face difficulties with joy and faith, so they become opportunities for growth. Ask Him to help you avoid, resist and overcome temptation. Pray that you will be a doer of God's Word, not just a hearer.
ACT: Think of something specific God has shown you from His Word regarding what He wants you to do, to develop or to change. Don't walk away and forget what He's shown you. Take immediate action and put His Word into practice.
THINK: Lots of people claim to believe in Jesus, and they think that's enough. After all, the Bible says that to be saved, you simply need to believe (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:16, 36; 6:40, 47; Acts 16:31; Romans 1:16; 10:9-10). Yet, this is more than intellectual belief that Jesus is God's Son who died for our sins. Even demons believe that (2:19). Biblical belief implies faith - an active trust that surrenders control of one's life to Christ and His purposes. That means action. Good works can't save you, but if you're truly saved, you'll do good things. Faith without works is dead faith (2:17).
RESPOND: Why and in what ways must Christians refrain from showing favoritism? (See 2:1 note.) In what way does discrimination stem from "evil thoughts" (v. 4)? Why are "those who are poor in the eyes of the world" (v. 5) often "rich in faith"? (See 2:5 note.) What is "the royal law" (v. 8) and why is it called that? (See 2:8 note.) Why is breaking God's law so serious? (See 2:10 note.) In what way will we "be judged by the law" (v. 12), and how should that affect our words and actions? (See 2:12 note.) How does the same law that judges also bring freedom (v. 12)? How can our attitudes and actions toward others affect God's attitudes and actions toward us (v. 13)? Why are good works vital for genuine faith? (See 2:14 note.) In what way is faith "dead" (v. 17) or "useless" (v. 20) without action? (See 2:17 note.) Why is intellectual "belief" in God not enough? (See 2:19 note.) In what way was Abraham a great example of faith in action? (See 2:21 note.) What made Abraham's faith complete? (See 2:22 note.) What was God's response to Abra- ham's active faith? (See 2:23 note.) How is a person "justified" - or made right - with God? (See 2:24 note.) What kinds of actions stem from a right relationship with God? How can a tongue control and effect one's entire being (vv. 2-7)? In what way is the tongue like a "fire"? (See 3:6 note.) What can words reveal about what's inside of us? (See 3:9 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you avoid discrimination so that you demonstrate His love to all people equally. Pray that your faith will always be backed by action, and that your words and conversations will always honor Christ.
ACT: If in any way you have shown favoritism to certain people and discriminated against others, ask for God's forgiveness and apologize to others. With God's help, determine to change both your attitudes and actions. Find a way in which your faith has not been sufficiently demonstrated by action, and make an effort to change that start- ing today. Also, keep control of your tongue and make sure your words and conversations are pleasing to God.