James the Brother of Jesus; April 27, 2020

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James is the opposite of politically correct, which is why his letter is so valuable. I think he learned that from his older Brother! Reading this letter gives us some real insight into what it must have been like to grow up as the half-brother of Jesus, yet without accepting that He was the Messiah. 1 Corinthians 15:7 tells us that after the resurrection Jesus came to him personally, as He had done for Peter, but neither he nor his brother Jude make any claim to their genetic kinship to Jesus, but rather proclaim that they are His servants. In other words, James is speaking here from personal experience. As Paul mentions in Galatians 1:19, it was well known that he was raised in the household of Mary and Joseph, and that doubtless colored people’s perception of him. He became the de facto leader of the Church in Jerusalem, after Peter, but he didn’t do it by throwing his weight around. Growing up he doubtless watched his older Brother, and he saw what absolute integrity looks like. He learned that words have to be backed up with actions, and actions have to come from the heart. We need to learn from him not to let familiarity breed contempt, as it is so prone to do, but rather press in to know more of Christ, while being fully aware of our total dependence on Him.

I didn’t grow up with a perfect older brother, but he was pretty good! I did learn a lot from him in various ways, and I still have the warmest regard for him. We were both raised by an awesome father, but as magnificent as he was, he still was not perfect. So we can’t identify with James’ experience completely, but we did learn a lot along the way. I have had my problems with expecting special treatment because of whose son I was. Part of that has come from indeed receiving special treatment, because of my father and my maternal grandfather. When God brought me up short and showed me the blackness of my heart, part of that was indeed the sense of privilege because of my pedigree. I certainly need to learn from James! Like just about everyone else, I think, I enjoy being put on a pedestal, but that is a very dangerous perch. As James says here, I indeed need to humble myself consistently before the Lord so that I won’t get in the way of whatever He wants to do through me.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that the Facebook Live worship service yesterday went pretty smoothly. Thank You for what we learned from that first experience. I pray that next Sunday would go even better, and that we would know whether You want this to be a regular feature of our services. Keep us from “performing for an audience,” but rather enable us to worship You in Spirit and in truth, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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