“James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1)
In order to appreciate God’s grace fully, we often need a lesson from the past. In James’ epistle, he encourages Jewish Christians to live out their faith in spite of difficult circumstances. He wrote to them saying, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). James never taught that people were saved by their works, but that true faith, faith that is “living” works itself out practically in a person’s life. There are many important lessons in the book of James, but I want us to see the lesson of the grace of God as displayed in the life of James. In the opening of his letter, James, the brother of Jesus describes himself as a servant. But James had a past. Having grown up alongside of Jesus, witnessing His childhood and His public ministry, James rejected Jesus as Messiah (John 7:5). It was only upon Jesus’ resurrection that James believed. So why would Jesus have any use for James after he had denied Him for all those years?
You and I have a past as well. The title of this devotion, Grace In An Unlikely Place is not meant to imply that God’s grace is in some way obscure in Scripture, but instead to show that it permeates all of Scripture, even where we may not readily see it. God’s grace is displayed not only in what the Holy Spirit inspired James to write in his epistle, but also, that after years of unbelief, he was allowed to write it. James becoming a leader in the church of Jerusalem and known as one of its “pillars” has wonderful implications for you and me. He is a testimony of God’s grace. No matter how long you have been in denial about Jesus Christ, when you believe, God can use you in a mighty way. God’s grace is free flowing and when it’s truly received, like it did with James, it will affect change in our lives. So, look for God’s grace in His Word; even in the places it may not seem obvious. Think about how God has shown His grace to you and respond to Him in a manner worthy of that grace.
Father, what a gracious God you are. You displayed that grace prominently in how you used James although he didn’t believe Jesus to be Messiah until after the resurrection. But you revealed yourself to Him, changed him and used him for your glory. Thank you for that same grace you’ve shown me. Let it continue to change me that I may bring you glory as well.