Summary: An introduction to James that challenges us to grow up in our walk of faith.
Growing Up is Hard to Do
The history books paint Hernando Cortez as a ruthless explorer. He conquered the Aztecs, Mexico and Cuba. On February 10, 1519 he said this; “We are on a crusade. We are marching as Christians into a land of infidels.”
We start today a sermon series through the book of James. We are calling it Practical Christian Living, because, we too, are on a crusade. We are marching as Christians in a land that is not Christian.
You won’t find a more practical book in the Bible then James. James told it like it was. He would not be a popular preacher today. He was an in your face, step on your toes, get right with God preacher. James would say what Peter Marshall said to Christians, “We are too Christian to enjoy sinning, and too fond of sinning really to enjoy Christianity. Most of us know perfectly well what we ought to do; our trouble is that we don’t want to do it.”
The book of James is written to believers. It is written to us so you and I can grow up into Spiritual Maturity. I believe growing up is hard to do. It is a decision a Christian and church makes to go on with God. Just as physical growth has growing pains spiritual growth also has growing pains.
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched that butterfly struggle for hours trying to get out of a small opening. Then it seemed to stop making progress. So the man tried to help. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly came out with a swollen body and little tiny wings. What the man didn’t know was the restricting cocoon and the struggle, were God’s way of forcing fluid out of the body and into the wings. Then the butterfly would be able to fly.
This is what Spiritual growth is like. It takes struggles, trials, patience and perseverance to grow in our walk with the Lord. There are many Christians and churches who have decided to stop growing in their relationship because it takes too much effort. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, how strong would our faith be?
That is why the book of James deals with topics like, trials, temptations, humility, pride, taming the tongue, prayer, patience, judging others, wisdom, wealth, and being doers of the Word. Does it sound like topics we all need—Amen! I’m looking forward to all that God wants to teach us—aren’t you!
So today let me give you the three components of the book of James, and how they relate to us today.
I. The Author—“James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
James was the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. He did not become a believer until after the resurrection. Matter of fact the Bible says in John 7:5, “neither did his brethren believe in him.” In John 7 they sneered at Jesus. This is probably why Jesus told John to look after His mother Mary because the rest of Jesus’ family rejected Him.
But after the resurrection Jesus appeared to James in 1 Corinthians 15:7. James became a believer and even led the rest of the family to the Lord, because Jesus’ entire family was in the upper room in Acts 1:14.
James then became the pastor of the church at Jerusalem. He met with Paul conferred with Peter and James had a heart for His people. He was a devout Jew who loved His people.
The Bible doesn’t say how James died, but Josephus a 1st century Jewish historian writes that the high priest Ananus, had James stoned to death.
But notice here two truths about the author:
A. His Attitude—“bondservant” James could have defined himself as James the brother of Jesus. That is a pretty good title. But James doesn’t define himself that way. He says I am a slave to Jesus. What matters to James is His relationship to God through Jesus.
A bondservant is a slave that is totally possessed by the master. He is bound by law to the service of his master. The slave existed for no other reason then to serve the master. He has no personal rights and could had no will, or ambition other than to do the will of the master.
Paul, Peter, Jude all called themselves bondservants and Paul told us we are to be bondservants of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 7:22. He also reminds us in v.23 we are bought with a price. Yes, brothers and sisters, if we are to grow up in faith we must realize that Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, but He washed it white as snow. This is to be our attitude.