How Do You Want to Be Known? (James 1:1)
WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – Imagine you’re preparing to deliver your most important message to the largest audience you will ever address. The host asks you to give him a list of your main qualifications to use in his introduction. What would you include? Your education, your awards, your accomplishments, your positions, your years of service? Some of you would legitimately have quite an impressive list – and you can joyously thank God for all of it!
At the Holy Spirit’s leading, James was composing a letter to be circulated among Jewish Christians scattered throughout the earth. It would contain sober warnings about compromise and strong exhortations to live radically Christian lives in a hostile world. It required a tone of authority in spiritual matters.
The first paragraph would be crucial. It would identify him as the author and give his readers reasons to pay attention to what he had to say. Of all he could have written,* here’s how the half-brother of Jesus and one of the most prominent leaders in the New Testament church introduced himself:
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1).
Forgive me, but I would probably have embellished that a little.
- If I’d known Jesus longer, and perhaps better, than anyone else except Mary…
- If I’d grown up playing with Him at home and working beside Him in our father’s shop…
- If God had chosen me rather than any of the original Twelve to be the apostolic leader of the church in Jerusalem…
- If I had presided over the Jerusalem Council, setting the conditions for Gentiles to enter the church…
Well, I might have mentioned some of that – or at least hoped that someone else would. Not James. He identified himself not as others saw him but as he saw himself and as he wished others to see him: a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the only claim to fame he wanted.
He may have just called Him “Jesus” around the breakfast table, but no more. Now, he knew Him as he would know Him for eternity as “our glorious Lord Jesus Christ” (James 2:1).
WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – Why aren’t we more like James? Why is it so important to us that others realize how much we know, how much we’ve done, and how impressive we are? Why do we so need to have titles and to give them to our leaders?
Why isn’t it enough to be known simply as servants of Christ? Why isn’t that the highest honor we could covet?
Master, work in my life in such a way that, when I think of You and of me, I think of my glorious Lord and of His servant. And, Lord Jesus, so work in me that I think of You much more often and of me much less.
*See Mark 6:3; Gal. 1:19; Acts 12:17; 15:6-29; and 21:18.