When I meet somebody for the first time, what do I tell them about who I am? What’s the primary way I say who I am when introducing myself to someone for the first time? Sometimes, I start with my career: “I’m the Pastor of Student Ministries at Brentwood United Methodist Church.” (I say it like that when I want to sound the most impressive.) I might start with my family: “I’m Travis Garner, the husband of ______, son of _______, father of _______, brother of ______.” Or maybe I’ll start with something from my past: “I’m Travis Garner, I went to (name of college), I used to (name of former career), etc.”
Usually, in whatever situation I find myself, I’ll lead with whatever I think will make me look or sound the best or make the best impression. Typically, how we introduce ourselves indicates what things are most important to us, things that are central to how we understand ourselves, central to what we want to be known for.
In James 1:1, with the first words he writes in his letter, James identifies himself like this: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James, at his core, understands himself to be a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. He doesn’t try to build himself up or make himself sound impressive, but instead calls himself a servant. He’s clear that he’s not a servant of anybody, he’s a servant of God and of Jesus Christ. This self understanding is at the heart of everything else he writes in this letter. This is central to him. This is the most important part of his identity and everything else he does and days attempts to back that up.
Who do I claim to be? What’s central to my identity? What would change in my life if being a “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” became the core of everything I did and said?
God, may I have the courage to identify myself first and foremost as your servant and may my whole life reflect that.