Have you ever heard someone say: “Practice what you preach”? In a sense, when someone communicates this to another, they are telling them to back up their words, thoughts, and beliefs with their actions. This is the central principle of the book of James. James writes this letter to believers emphasizing the importance of their faith in action, particularly in social action, much like the Old Testament prophets and Jesus taught. We must not see any tension between correct belief (orthodoxy) and correct behavior (orthopraxy). Historically some have seen the book of James to be theologically at odds with the apostle Paul’s teaching. While it may sound different, James’ letter does not contradict the rest of Scripture. He outlines how to follow Christ, obey Christ, and become like Christ, calling believers to live obediently to the Word of God and not a life of reactivity to the world around us.
Within the 108 verses found in the book of James, there are over 59 commands. The book of James is extremely practical; thus it is often referred to as the “Proverbs of the New Testament.” Closely linked to and influenced by the teaching of Jesus, James brings encouragement to those suffering in trials and tribulations, while also providing exhortation and reproof against the religious hypocrisy he observes in the disconnect of belief and behavior.