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A brother faithfully serving his master's kingdom

August 29, 2022
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Daily Scripture

James 1:1

1 From James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. To the twelve tribes who are scattered outside the land of Israel.

Greetings!

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The letter’s first verse gave clues about the writer. “The likeliest James who would have the status to address ‘the twelve tribes’ and identify himself only as ‘James’ (1:1) is James the brother of Jesus (Acts 12:17; 15:13–21; 21:17–26; 1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 2:9, 12).” * Jesus’ brothers (cf. Matthew 13:55) didn’t believe in him (cf. John 7:3-5). Yet one brother, James, became the Christian leader in Jerusalem, likely because Jesus met with him after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7).

  • A “slave”? No thanks! (Some English Bibles use “servant” to ease the meaning of the Greek word doulos.) “It is not a hired servant who is free to change his employer at will, but a slave who is the property of his master, not free to leave….When James applies this term to himself, he obviously means that he is the property of God and of Jesus Christ, that they have the right to command him and use him.” ** How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with the idea of being Jesus’ “slave”?
  • When James wrote, the church (especially in Jerusalem) was still largely Jewish. Scholar N. T. Wright said he addressed “the twelve tribes” “to encourage Christians across the world–whom he sees as the new version of the ‘twelve dispersed tribes’ of Israel–to face up to the challenge of faith.” *** In a culture that often values novelty, what are some of the positives of seeing our faith as carrying on the age-old story of God’s work in restoring the human family?
Prayer

Loving Lord, you are the only master whose slave I would wish to be. Use me in whatever way(s) you need to advance your eternal kingdom. Amen.

GPS Insights

 Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood serves on the Worship Experience team at Church of the Resurrection. She loves all things related to worship and enjoys working with our talented team of staff and volunteers. One of her favorite things to read about and study are stained glass windows, and she considers herself very blessed to work and worship in a place with such a magnificent window.

In my former job as an 8th grade English teacher, I used to look for speeches on YouTube or TEDTalk that would inspire and motivate my students to strive to be better students and better people in general. It’s easy to find videos of people giving such speeches, but besides asking them to analyze the delivery, I also asked them to pay close attention to the words being spoken. It’s the crafting of the words that make those speeches so powerful.

If James were around today, I imagine his letter becoming a great TEDTalk. The intentionality of his message, the passion behind his words, and the keen awareness of his audience (consisting mostly of fellow Christians), make James a fantastic book of the Bible to go to for inspiration and advice. It’s a motivational letter to believers outlining all the practical and important ways we should be living out our faith.

James, as a leader in the early church, felt that believers needed guidance on how to genuinely live a faith that transforms lives. With messages like facing trials with joy, enduring hardships, listening more, being slow to anger, and many more, James was hoping to motivate believers to not merely say they were Christians, but to live a transformed life for all to see.

The lessons outlined in the book of James are still very practical for today’s believer as well. We live in a world that is always watching other people and what they say and do. The world is constantly watching Christians to see if we are living a life of faith in how we speak to and treat others. If we’re not living a life that reflects God’s love and mercy and grace, we’re missing the mark. James challenges us to live a visibly authentic Christian life.

But how do we do that? James writes some powerful nuggets of wisdom on the why, but the how is not so clear…especially today. I was reading a blog by Sarah J. Hauser entitled Living Out a Changed Life. In her reflections on the book of James, she writes…

“Let us be people who are known for being just as God is just, for being merciful as God is merciful, for being good as God is good. Let us be people who feed the poor and change the social structures that forced poverty upon them. Let’s work to eradicate racist systems that threaten the lives and livelihoods of black and brown men and women. There’s no racism in God’s kingdom, so as the Church we get to be people God uses to make that a reality on earth as it is in heaven. There’s no hunger in God’s kingdom, so we must feed the hungry. There’s no abuse in God’s kingdom, so we must advocate for the abused.” *

So, as James encourages us to life a life that reflects how God has transformed us, let’s look for ways to honor God in how we speak to one another, how we approach life’s trials and temptations, and in how we show love to our neighbor.

* Hauser, Sara J., Living Out a Changed Life. https://sarahjhauser.com/blog/james-week-4.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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