James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. James 1:1
This greeting is likely familiar to all of us who have spent much time in the New Testament. Therefore, we are likely to quickly pass by it. But let’s slow down, consider who is penning this letter to the scattered Jewish Christians, it is James… not James the brother of John, not the lesser-known James of the twelve apostles, nor one of the several other James who had that given name. This is James, the half-brother of Jesus. Perhaps you, like me, would have done a bit of name-dropping in this letter. But he didn’t, he opted for humility and blunt truth… his greatest identification was that of a servant… a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s remind ourselves that of all of our titles, earned or inherited, our greatest is that we might be, like James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ!.
Allow me to write from J.B. Phillips paraphrase (one of only a very few paraphrases I have confidence in quoting), from the opening six verses of this letter–
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, sends greeting to the twelve dispersed tribes.
When all kind of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders (boy I love this part of the paraphrase), but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask of God– who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty– and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God’s help or not.
I appreciate the illustration from Robert Murray M’Cheyne–
Every wise workman takes his tools away from the work from time to time that they may be ground and sharpened; so does the only-wise Jehovah take his ministers often times away into darkness and loneliness and trouble, that they may sharpen and prepare them for hard work in His service.
And the insight from Charles Spurgeon–
As sure as ever God puts His children in the furnace, He will be in the furnace with them. In shunning trial we are seeking to avoid a blessing.
God’s will be done as we open this wonderful book, may we see and be like our Lord Jesus more & more!