“November 18–24. James: ‘Be Ye Doers of the Word, and Not Hearers Only’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: New Testament 2019 (2019)
“November 18–24. James,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2019
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Sometimes just one verse of scripture can change the world. James 1:5 seems like a simple bit of counsel—if you need wisdom, ask God. But when 14-year-old Joseph Smith read that verse, “it seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of [his] heart” (Joseph Smith—History 1:12). Thus inspired, Joseph acted on James’s admonition and sought wisdom from God through prayer. And God did indeed give liberally, giving Joseph one of the most remarkable heavenly visitations in human history—the First Vision. This vision changed the course of Joseph’s life and led to the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. All of us are blessed today because Joseph Smith read and acted on James 1:5.
What will you find as you study the Epistle of James? Perhaps a verse or two will change you or someone you love. You may find guidance as you seek to fulfill your mission in life. You may find encouragement to speak kindly or to be more patient. Whatever inspires you, let these words “enter … into every feeling of [your] heart.” Remember to “receive with meekness the … word,” as James wrote, “which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).
It is generally believed that the author of the Epistle of James was a son of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, and therefore the half brother of the Savior. James is mentioned in Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; and Galatians 1:19; 2:9. It appears from these scriptures that James was a Church leader in Jerusalem and had been called as an Apostle (see Galatians 1:19).
“Waiting can be hard,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught. “We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant” (“Continue in Patience,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 56). After reading James 1:2–4; 5:7–11, what would you say was James’s main message about patience? What additional insights do you have after reading the rest of President Uchtdorf’s message? How can you show the Lord that you’re willing to be patient?
How do you know if you have faith in Jesus Christ? How do your works demonstrate your faith in God? Think about these questions as you study James’s teachings about faith. It might be interesting to also read about Abraham and Rahab, two examples James mentioned (see Genesis 22:1–12; Joshua 2). How did they show that they had faith in God?
Among the rich imagery James used throughout his epistle, some of his most vivid language is found in his counsel about language. Consider making a list of all the ways James described the tongue or mouth. What does each comparison or image suggest about the words we speak? Think of something you can do to bless someone with your words (see D&C 108:7).
James warned the Saints specifically against favoring the rich and despising the poor, but his warning can apply to any biases or prejudices we may have toward others. It can be difficult to recognize the ways in which we negatively judge others, but the Lord has promised that He will help us see where we need to improve (see Ether 12:27). As you prayerfully study James 2:1–9, search your own heart and listen for the Holy Ghost’s promptings. Do you sense any changes you need to make in the way you treat or think of others?
As you read the scriptures with your family, the Spirit can help you know what principles to emphasize and discuss based on your family’s needs. Here are some suggestions:
Consider reading James 1:5 and inviting a family member to summarize the account of the First Vision (see Joseph Smith—History 1:8–13 or the video “Ask of God: Joseph Smith’s First Vision” on LDS.org). Invite family members to share their testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith and experiences when Heavenly Father answered their prayers.
Consider watching the video “True Christianity” (LDS.org) in connection with these verses. Then read James’s definition of pure religion and discuss ways your family can make the practice of your religion more pure.
James 3 includes many images that could inspire memorable object lessons to help your family remember to speak kindly. For example, you could discuss how a small spark or match can start a large fire, and family members could think of times when an unkind word caused a problem (see verses 5–6). Or you could serve something sour or bitter in something that is usually used for sweet food—such as lemon juice in a honey jar. This could lead to a discussion about ensuring that our words are sweet and uplifting (see verses 9–14).
Why should we “draw nigh to God” when we face temptation?
Perhaps sharing a personal experience about receiving a priesthood blessing could encourage family members to “ask for a priesthood blessing when [they] are in need of spiritual power” (Dallin H. Oaks, “The Importance of Priesthood Blessings,” New Era, July 2012, 4).
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.