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James 1:1-8 Discussion Guide


Note—As you work through the discussion guide, remember that you do not have to answer every question; pick and choose which questions work best for your group discussion.


Introduction: Talk about how important it is to be able to smell when food has gone bad. Or leaking gas, etc. Becoming accustomed to smells that no longer register in your brain is possible. This can be dangerous (Or helpful if you have to change many dirty diapers). Stinking Thinking can occur when we no longer recognize unhealthy thinking patterns.

Activity: Bring a few common household items and see who is the best at naming them just by smell alone.

Question 1: What are some stinking thinking patterns that you struggle with?

(ME/ME, YOU/YOU, ALWAYS, NEVER, Negativity, Judgment)


Read: 1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Explain: James was most likely the brother of Jesus. His reference to the 12 scattered tribes connects the 12 tribes of Israel, God’s chosen people, with the church. The churches he wrote to were scattered (the word is diaspora) by persecution.

Question 2: What are some questions that quickly come to mind as we read that passage?


Read: Heb 12:2-3 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Question 3: How does this passage help us understand how we can consider it pure joy when we face trials?

(The “joy” for Jesus was not the suffering of the cross, but he had to go through that suffering to get to the joy)

Question 4: What do you think Jesus’ joy was? He didn’t need to grow as we do.

(Our salvation, his Father’s will, was done)


Explain: The sequence here is: Trials–perseverance–mature and complete.

Question 5: In this sequence, is maturity and completeness an automatic benefit of trials? If not, what is required?

(We must “let” perseverance complete its work)

Question 6: Does this seem reasonable or actually doable?

(Keep in mind James was himself undergoing trials, this was not just a coffee shop talk)


Explain: James next encourages us to ask God for wisdom if we lack it. He says that if we ask for it, God will grant it.

Question 7: How is biblical wisdom different from having the answers to our questions?

Question 8: How is it possible to have answers to our questions and yet not grow in faith and love for God and others?


Explain:  When James writes that the “doubter” will not receive anything from God, he is not referring to a kind of perfect faith. He is talking about a faith that is “singular” in mind versus “double-minded.” This means a consistent direction towards trusting God, not perfection. Double-minded is literally “double-souled”. It means more than just a mental struggle; it is a whole life/heart struggle.

Question 9: What are some root causes of being “double-minded,” and what do you think are some ways to overcome it?

Question 10: If you are going through a trial right now, does this passage seem “realistic?” why or why not?


Conclude: Practice right now, counting the current trials as pure joy. Do this by confessing faith in God’s goodness, his providential control, and his final glory to be revealed in and through us. Pray for God to grant wisdom. Not mere answers but deep insight and love for God that empowers joyful trust in adversity.

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