Suffering and Integrity. I love how James says to think of the prophets who suffered – and so many of them did. And they are an inspiration for us when we are suffering – as is Christ, and Paul, and Peter, and James himself, who was martyred.
It is interesting, though, that he picks Job as his example. Job did suffer, unjustly, but he also spent a fair amount of time grumbling – which James just told us not to do! This is why it is so important to read the Bible in context – sometimes even grumbling (to God) is seen as a cry for justice, which God listen to, and mercifully answered Job’s prayer. God is not afraid of our hurts, and He is growing us stronger through our hard times.
James also tells us to keep word, and to have a reputation so strong with our words that we don’t even need to take an oath. This doesn’t mean we can’t sign a mortgage or a loan, but it means that our integrity matters and our reputation counts, and we need to keep our word even when it hurts. I haven’t met many people who say that they regularly “lie”; that isn’t the problem for most of us. It is more that we say things flippantly, and don’t think about what is coming out of our mouths. This goes back to James teaching us to be slow to talk, slow to anger. I need to speak less, listen more, and be careful with the words that I speak – trusting God even in the silence.