Holy One, there is none like You, my Rock and my Deliverer. You enable me to prevail. I offer You praise.
Read James 1:1-11
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4,5).
Soon after arriving in a Western country from Asia for study, a young woman declared she wanted to become a Christian. Everything was fine until the practical implications of the Lordship of Christ were spelled out: you honor your parents, but Jesus has first place in your decision making. Your career is important, but endless promotion may demand too high a sacrifice of time and effort. Your natural longing for marriage may bring personal and family challenges when it proves difficult to find a Christian partner. Public allegiance to Christ may result in discrimination and more. “Why does anyone follow Jesus?” she asked in astonishment. James is the mentor for people like her. Written to Christians under pressure, he spurs us on to single-hearted devotion.
Straightaway, James launches into themes that he will expand later. First, wholehearted devotion is a cause and a consequence of trials (2-4). He acknowledges the testing that his readers are enduring and reminds them of another perspective. Whether social or economic, it is through these trials that priorities are refined and strengthened. Patient endurance leads to steadfastness, a deepening, proven trust in God’s providence. God-likeness is the joyful result.
Second, wholehearted devotion leads to single-minded prayer for divine wisdom (5-8). We throw ourselves on the Lord, who is generous, both in his gifts and in his attitude towards us. The doubters (7,8) are not so much the emotionally uncertain, as those who look in two directions to obtain what they need. Third, wholehearted devotion to God turns our earth-bound priorities upside down (9-11). The world relates individual value to status and wealth. These wither in an instant: it is God’s perspective that must transform ours.
How, practically, can I pursue single-minded devotion to Christ today when I often seem to be juggling many identities and multiple demands?
Loving Lord, I know that when I put You first in my life, things can get uncomfortable. When that happens, may I learn the lessons and grow in grace.