• Chuck Garriott

James 1:1 - A Servant of God

Updated: 2 days ago

Our identity is important. In a manner of speaking, we frequently ask, Who am I? But the question also concerns our relationship to our world, community, friends, family and workplace. Who am I, really?

This is the first of an 18-part devotional series. Sign-up here to have these devotionals sent straight to your inbox.


James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:

Greetings.

James 1:1

Is it worth your time to reflect on a devotional series based on the New Testament book of James? The dark and enduring shadow of 2020 convinces me that even a cursory treatment of its five chapters will offer needed nourishment for the new year.


In government circles, the term “serve” or “servant” is frequent. Those who work for the White House are told that they “serve” at the pleasure of the president. Those elected to a national or state office are often reminded that they have the responsibility of serving their constituents. In a manner of speaking, those in government should see themselves as a “servant of the people.” James begins his epistle by introducing himself as a servant, but not that of any constituent.


James was the brother of our Lord (Gal 1:19), a pillar of the church (Acts 15), and known for his “camel like knees” because of his long hours of prayer. As an author, James provides proverb-like encouragement to the people of God. Our life challenges– anxiety, challenging conversations, personal work trials, community conflict, prayer struggles, disinterest in the Scriptures, personal illness, and unrelenting patterns of sin– all need the balm of James’s words.


So what can we glean from this author’s self-description as a “servant”?


Our identity is important. In a manner of speaking, we frequently ask, Who am I? But the question also concerns our relationship to our world, community, friends, family and workplace. Who am I, really?


James’ self-confessed identity raises questions. Who raises their kids to be a servant or a slave? It is not the career path for which I would pray for myself and certainly not for my children.


In some ways it seems odd. James is a church leader who directs the functions of a developing community of believers. He witnessed the resurrection of Christ. Within the church he is a member of an elite group who is mentioned in the book of Acts. And yet, he does not refer to his accomplishments or status. He wants us to think of him as a servant of Christ.


What does it mean to owe service to God?


It begins with repentance. James understood that everyone is a servant. The question is to whom? In most cases we are slaves to the master of our own unending demands and obsessions. At times our career goals, possessions, or desire for the right relationship hold us captive. In certain cases, the desires are decent and healthy. Yet, it does not take us long to twist good things and turn them into idols.


The slave of Christ has surrendered all that she has and all that she wants to him alone. In time she realizes to be under the master of self or things is suffocating.


To see oneself as serving Christ is humbling. It means that I seek his agenda and pursue his ways for my life. I must die to self. Ironically, this is a picture of freedom. Such a death is possible only through Christ who frees us to worship him with our praise and thanksgiving. It is a gift to focus not on oneself but on the one who is worthy of our service.



Chuck Garriott is the Executive Director and founder of Ministry to State.

#Devotional #James

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