Unlike the apostle Paul, James was no urbane man of letters. He was a simple, homespun preacher, perturbed at people who were not living love. His letter covers a wide range of topics, applying the Christian faith to specific problems, and commanding readers to live out their beliefs.
Be humble! James orders. Submit to God! Stop sinning! James is as forthright as an Old Testament prophet; it is hard to miss his point.
Modern readers of James face the same dilemma as the first recipients of this unsettling letter. His words are easy enough to understand, but hard to do. James forces us to look past the knowing of faith and to take a long look at the doing of faith. He asks the tough question, "What kind of love be seen in our lives?"
As Luther himself said, "You are saved by faith alone, but if faith is alone, it is not faith."