A James Worth Imitating5
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.” James 1:1
Just as our bodies need a balanced diet so too does our soul and the Lord has given us the best chefs. Chef James is unlike any other author in the New Testament (Excuse the mixed metaphor). James is one of the hardest hitting and most controversial letters in the Bible, but we need it. We couldn’t live on a diet of James, but we wouldn’t be healthy, well balanced Christians without knowing and practicing what he says.
So, who was this James? He was the brother of the Lord Jesus. One could use one’s sanctified imagination and picture Jesus and James fishing on the banks of the Lake of Galilee or wrestling in the barley fields. What an incredible privilege to have grown up with Jesus as your older brother, no bullying, no teasing, no lying. Why didn’t James begin his letter, “James, the brother of Jesus Christ.” How would you introduce yourself if you were the brother of Jesus? “Michael, the brother of Jesus, greetings.” Not so James, he introduces himself as a servant, a slave. What an example of humility. You see James knew that it wasn’t about his familial relationship to Jesus it was about his absolute, humble, submission to the Lordship of Christ. Church history tells us that James had a nickname in Jerusalem, Old Camel Knees, due to the callouses on his knees from praying. It wasn’t always like this, there was a time when James only knew Jesus as his brother and not his Lord. What is your relationship to the Lord? Incredibly, Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters (Heb. 2:11). We, however, do well to follow the example of James and call ourselves servants of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us follow James’ example and humble ourselves. This plague reminds us that we are not in ultimate control. While we often pay lip service to this truth, allow this truth to permeate your being. Use this time away from the hustle and bustle of daily routine to see where you are not a servant of Christ. Expose those areas to the Lord and take small, practical steps to bring them into submission to the Lordship of Christ.
Who was James writing to? The twelve tribes in the dispersion. These were brothers and sisters in Christ who fled their homelands with nothing more than what they could carry in order to survive. These were families that were facing intense trials and looming fears. While we are not being physically persecuted, we are facing trials and many fears: physical health fears, financial fears etc. In many ways we find ourselves tempted in similar ways to James’ original audience.
James, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes “Greetings” to this scared, tempted, confused, dispersed group of believers. “Greetings” literally means rejoice, it was a wish for the happiness and joy of the recipient, similar to the English phrase, “Best wishes” or the Zulu phrase “Hamba kahle” (Go well).
Dear child of God, in the midst of uncertainty and temptation the Holy Spirit’s desire for you is still the same, may you know joy! God has not forgotten you; He always remembers His children, especially in their difficulties, just as parents really remember their children when they are crying. Jesus gave His life for you; He won’t forget you now!