“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” ~ James 1:20-27.
People often think James and Paul contradict one another in their teachings. This is not the case. James and Paul are saying the same thing from different ends of the continuum.
Paul often stressed salvation by faith, not works, because those known as Judaizers were coming to where he was teaching mainly the Gentile believers, and they were trying to press the Gentiles into thinking that unless they received circumcision of the flesh of the foreskin, they could not be saved. So Paul stressed that it is faith in Christ that saves, not any work of the flesh. But he also stressed that, once having been saved and filled with the Spirit, those who are led by the Spirit will also follow the example of Christ in the keeping of the Laws and call of God on their personal lives.
James is dealing with a group that is tempted by the flip side of the issue—the other end of the continuum of faith. These he speaks to believed that if we are saved by faith in Christ, it doesn’t matter what we do from there on out; sin or not, we are still saved, so why care about the Law or the works of the flesh. James is teaching them, as he says, “Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works” ~ (See James 2:14-26). True faith in God through the saving faith of Jesus Christ always walks in the fullness of the Spirit to obey God in all things. True faith in God through saving faith of Jesus Christ brings the filling of His Spirit that empowers us to accomplish every good work in accord with the will and way of God.
Endurance in our faith does what is godly. Endurance, because of faith that believes in and trusts God through Christ and in likeness to Him, chooses to “be doers of the word and not merely hearers of it.” A person who hears the word, while not being changed and influenced by it to walk in God’s will and way, needs to seriously look at where his faith lies and whether it be true faith.
We learn of God through what He requires of us, for God requires of us what He Himself believes to be true; and what He requires us to do in the strength He supplies us for doing it, He Himself does, for He is faithful to His Word. Thus one whose faith endures the trials of life knows how to bridle his tongue to the glory of God, producing a wellspring of sweet Living Water; and by faith, he or she knows how to serve God through the works of their hands. When we grow strong in faith to believe God so we may endure temptation’s pull that leads away from the will and way of God, then we will endure to the finish and produce the works that prove the source of our faith and protect us from falling to the lusts of the flesh.