The kid had it pretty good. His father was a righteous kind man, and he enjoyed a doting mother and several younger siblings. Despite their lack of riches, the family resided in a friendly neighborhood where the children played on the street and the adults parented by committee. However, he faced a formidable foe in the form of his older brother. No matter what he did or how hard he tried, he could never live up to the standards set by the firstborn. He dreamed of the day that his “nemesis” would leave the household and allow him to become the leader of the pack. But, lo and behold, he wouldn’t leave. Rather, he couldn’t leave, given the death of the father and thus the need to remain at home to help Mom run the brood. Then suddenly one day his older brother departed to achieve his calling, leaving him in charge; happy days are here again!
The brother of Jesus
Not so fast. Jesus left home to start his ministry which left James to explain to his neighbors why his older brother claimed to be the Messiah. In the gospel of Mark, we see James, his mother Mary and other members of the family attempt to take Jesus back home, believing he had lost his mind. Later we are told in the book of Matthew that James and Mary and others wanted to speak to him, and Jesus responded, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” A few months prior to his crucifixion, we see in the gospel of John how his brothers, including James, did not believe that he was God.
Walking and Talking with Christ
And then things changed. The resurrection of the Lord caused an immediate upheaval in the life of James, so much so that he was present in the upper room when the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost, ministered in the early church and later became the leader of the Jerusalem branch, was a mighty prayer warrior known as “camel knees,” wrote the epistle that carries his name and was stoned to death in 62 A.D. as a result of being a follower of Jesus. Much like the Apostle Paul, he immediately turned his life around once the Son of God made His presence known.
Chapters specifically for me
Unfortunately, I was a major procrastinator when it came to acknowledging Christ as my savior, yet interestingly enough it was the letter penned by James and inspired by God that greatly impacted the end of my lethargy.
I believe that James wrote his five chapters specifically for me; I am convinced that they are a direct indictment of a great portion of my life. For you see, I gave in to temptation and avoided trials. Humility was certainly not my calling card. I blamed others for my shortcomings and took pride in always talking and not listening. Slogging in moral filth was my forte. I refused to help those in distress, showed favoritism, had neither faith nor works, was envious and selfish, while being a friend of the world and an enemy of God. Moreover, I did not resist the devil, freely slandered others, boasted about tomorrow, was impatient and had no prayer life; and that only covers four chapters.
The body of the indictment is contained in Chapter 3, verses 2-12, where my tongue is described as a world of evil which corrupted my whole person and set the course of my life on fire, which I could not tame and thus it filled me with deadly poison. Sounds outlandish, but it is not; James hit the bullseye… guilty on all counts. One would think that 35 years of recognizing Jesus the Christ as my redeemer, accepting the gift and attempting to honor and glorify Him with my life would be sufficient to expunge this malady from my being. Sadly, I must report that these 11 verses continue to do battle in me…old habits die hard.
Yet, despite my daily struggle, God has been using me to bring His Word to others. Full disclosure is necessary here. By no means am I doing a deep dive but rather find myself snorkeling near the surface when it comes to sharing Scripture. Nonetheless, I am encouraged by the fact that my knowledge of the Bible is challenged, but my personal testimony is not. And so, I carry on very much aware of the responsibility of that endeavor. Which leads me to the only verse that I never thought would apply to me… James 3:1. It reads ” Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James doesn’t seem to leave me alone… He is just like Jesus.
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