JoJ: James 1:1
Welcome to July of James! I'm so hyped to go through the first chapter of James and share the little findings that stood out to me there, hopefully for the benefit and encouragement of all my readers out there. I've been loving the word study method—looking up definitions of words I come across in each verse—and I hope you can have a little "eureka moment" or two, as I did when reading this chapter!
James 1:1~ James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
This first verse of James 1 seems pretty straightforward, with the exception of one word that stood out to me: "servant". In the NLT version, upon cross-referencing, I found the word "slave" used instead. That struck me as a particularly harsh term, in one sense, since slavery carries such terrible connotations to most people. But let's consult Webster's Dictionary, shall we?
Slave: "one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence".
Servant: "one that serves others; one that performs duties about the person or home of a master or personal employer".
At face value, I realize that both of these words mean largely the same thing, but I couldn't help noticing that the term "servant" seems to focus more on serving others— namely, Jesus and those around us, in the nature of selflessness. "Slave", on the other hand, focuses on being subservient, or submissive to our master and his will.
Both meanings gave me food for thought. On one hand, how effective am I as a servant? How often do I search for ways to serve those around me as a means of serving Jesus through them? How often to I put myself aside to do something for others, to do my duty as a Christian by doing something for others? I realized that I have a lot of work to do in that regard, and that serving Christ and serving others are one in the same. As Christ says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:40)
On the other hand, I realized I'm not a perfect slave either. I want to honour Christ, but am I completely subservient to his will? Am I humble, submissive, totally and meekly obedient to what he asks and expects of me? Or am I operating on a when-it-suits-me-I'll-obey-you basis?
At the end of the day, both words brought me to the realization that I want to be both an effective servant and slave of Jesus Christ. It reminded me of the words that can always bring me to tears, the words I want so badly to hear one day in heaven—
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
Mish, Frederick C. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. 9th ed., Merriam-Webster Inc., 1983.