A Wisdom Retreat - April 13

What’s in an Introduction?

James 1:1
To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.

Hudson Taylor was used mightily by our Lord in taking the Gospel to the Chinese mainland in the 1800s. He was a quiet, unassuming man who had served God faithfully for fifty years.

At one point during his ministry, he was invited to speak at a large church in Australia. Upon arriving, he found the church so packed with people that many had to stand in the back. The moderator introduced the elderly missionary pioneer statesman with eloquent descriptions as he praised the mighty accomplishments of Hudson Taylor. He ended his introduction by referring to Taylor as “our illustrious guest.”

Mr. Taylor approached the pulpit and then stood quietly for a moment before responding with these words: “Dear friends, I am the servant of an illustrious Master.”

This is the kind of humility the Apostle James expresses in the opening lines of his epistle. James could have introduced himself to his readers as “James, the Lord’s half-brother” or “James, the chairman of the Jerusalem Council,” or “James, the pastor of the world’s largest congregation”!

All of those things were true. Instead, he introduces himself as “James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

James effectively says, “You wanna know what my highest privilege in life is? I am the servant of a most illustrious God!”

This proclamation becomes even more revealing when we look at the word James uses for bond-servant. It is the Greek word doulos, which literally means slave. The verb form of the word means to bind, so James here is literally boasting in the fact that he is bound to Christ.

This is an incredible declaration when you consider the fact that, for years, James had eaten at the same table, shared the same home, and attended the same synagogue school as Jesus. He had grown up with Him!

He witnessed the development of his amazing older Brother who, by the way, never seemed to do anything wrong.

This had all been lost on James for so long. Frankly, he could have lived the rest of his life in bitter regret. But the truth of Christ’s resurrection changed everything . . . Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be. And that same truth has changed your life, as well.

James’ introduction at the beginning of his letter reveals the radical transformation that had taken place in his heart upon believing the Gospel bound up in his Half-Brother. He had spent years of his life scoffing at Jesus for His incredible claims; now he is bowing before Him in complete submission. What a transformation!

When people hear your name, do they think of you as a man or woman who is totally committed to Christ? Do you describe yourself based on your spiritual, physical, or financial achievements—or on your relationship to the Savior?

How would you like to be known: as an illustrious Christian . . . or as a slave to an illustrious Christ?

Prayer Point: Consider some of the blessings God has given you; remember what He saved you from and has forgiven you for over the years. Remembrance leads to worship; worship leads to true humility.

Extra Refreshment: Read the Apostle Paul’s personal introduction in Philippians 3. Like James, he reminds us to boast in Christ rather than our selves.

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