I hope you are ready for our first day of spiritual boot camp as we begin to dive into the book of James and spend time in prayer seeing how the Lord wants us to apply these passages to our own lives. When you look at a small passage of Scripture and really break it apart you will be amazed at how much meaning is packed into just a few lines.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
James identifies himself as the author of this letter. Notice how he identified himself – “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” – very different from how we define ourselves today. In giving introductions, we usually define ourselves by our jobs, i.e. I’m a teacher, I’m an engineer, I work for Joe Smith Company, etc. James identifies himself first and foremost as a servant. How do you define yourself and how do you introduce yourself?
The next part of the introduction says he is a “servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ”. We usually identify ourselves with our family members – I’m Bill’s wife, I’m Allison and Emily’s mom. James identifies himself as belonging to the family of God and being a servant to Him. What a powerful statement to make. How would your perception of yourself change if you were to identify yourself as a servant of the Lord first and foremost, if that was the defining characteristic of who you are?
The rest of the first verse tells us who James is writing to – “the 12 tribes scattered among the nations”. We know that James is writing to a Christian audience because he identified himself as a servant of the Lord but this last part gives us even more information about the recipients. The 12 tribes lets us know that James is writing to Jewish Christians versus Gentile Christians because the 12 tribes refers to the 12 tribes of Israel.
The final part of the first verse tells us that it is written to those “scattered among the nations”. This final piece of information lets us know that it was probably written to the church after the death of Stephen when people were fearful and fled to avoid being persecuted for being a follower of Christ.
Are you surprised how much information was packed into one small verse? We won’t always cover one verse a day, but I wanted to really break down this verse so we could understand who was writing the letter and who the recipients were. Spend sometime in prayer and think about how you describe yourself or introduce yourself. Where do you find your sense of identity? Is it in your job, your hobbies, your family, etc.? Pray and seek to find out how God would introduce you, what would He say about you that would identify to others who you are.
I pray this spiritual boot camp will transform all of us into the people we were created to be so we can live the lives God prepared in advance for us to live and may He be glorified in all we we do. Blessings!