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Practicing what we preach

"He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." James 1.18

The Letter of James is peppered with instructions and suffused with the air of authority. And that is because it flows from the pen of the man who, according to church tradition, was appointed to lead the church following Jesus' ascension into heaven - his brother James. As seems to have been the case with Jesus' other siblings, James did not understand or accept his older brother's identity until after his death and resurrection. But, when he did, his commitment was total.

James gets away with what might come across in others as "authoritarian" because his life matched his teaching. Nicknamed "the Just", James is uncompromising in his insistence that people are not defined by their wealth, or lack of it, or indeed by other other attribute or accomplishment but simply in accordance to their response to God. And the validity of that response is to be measured according to the evidence of their lives. Maligned by prominent leaders of the Reformation for preaching a "gospel of works", James does not advocate worldly productivity or self-righteousness but humility, fairness and mercy.

And prayer! James' reputation for for prayerfulness almost outshines his instinct for justice. He was said to stoop and have knees like a camel on account of the quantity of time he spent pleading for others before God. If there was ever an example of one whose life was completely reshaped through faith in Jesus, it is James the Just, brother of the Lord. Who are your role models?



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