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Servant Status

James 1:1
James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the most effective missionaries that we still read about today is William Carey, who served a lifetime in India during the 1800s. His ministry accomplishments were amazing, including translating portions of the Bible into thirty-four different languages. Before entering the ministry, Carey was a poor cobbler. He took over his father-in-law’s shoe repair shop at a young age and, while working there, taught himself Italian, French, Dutch, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Later in life, Carey was a guest at a large gathering of dignitaries and other well-known people. During the event, a wealthy attendee said to him, “I understand that you, Mr. Carey, once worked as a shoemaker.” “Oh, no, sir,” Carey replied, “not a shoemaker; only a cobbler.” In other words, William Carey readily admitted that he didn’t make shoes, he simply repaired them. What humility.

This is the attitude of James, the half-brother of our Lord. He could have said a lot of things about himself, growing up in the same household as the Lord—personally spending hours with Him and being in the inner circle of those who knew Christ best. Yet, in his opening lines to the Jewish believers scattered throughout the Roman Empire, James simply referred to himself as a servant.

Instead of being big-headed, James was big-hearted.

How do we spot the difference in our own lives? Well, it would probably help if we asked ourselves a few revealing questions: Whose opinion do I value most: mine or God’s? Do I listen to someone recounting their life events without interrupting them with news of my own? Does my neighbor’s house or car or job make me feel irritated, or am I glad for them? Do the accomplishments of other believers cause me to rejoice, or do I simmer with resentment? Am I the subject of my conversations?

Martin Luther once said that God made the world out of nothing, and when we become nothing, He could make something out of us, too.

Do you want to make an impact on your world for Christ’s glory? Then follow the example of Christ, of whom Paul said, “He made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of a servant.” God is more interested in developing great servants who are willing to tackle the smallest task.