The H Factor

I don't think I've ever taught a verse based on what's NOT in it but I am this time.  In an earlier post, we looked at James 1:1 and unpacked a whole bunch from this little verse.  You can read it here
/livingletters4/2014/06/james-bond-servant-of-god-and-of-lord.html




But today, let's look at the verse again and see what's NOT there.....


James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.




Most all Bible scholars agree that the author of this book is James, the half-brother of Jesus.  He grew up with Jesus and yet wasn't convinced that He was the promised Messiah until after Christ
had risen from the dead.  (John 7:5, 1 Corinthians 15:7).  After his conversion, though, he became a wholehearted follower of the One he used to share an earthly home with.  James went on to become the head of the church in Jerusalem and was the "go to guy" when early believers had questions, concerns, or disputes (Acts 15).  Reliable historians refer to James as "Old Camel Knees" because he was so faithful in prayer that his knees developed callouses from kneeling so often and so long.


Yet, in the only epistle history records him to write, we see no mention of his kinship to THE MESSIAH nor any attempt to leverage his position in the church.


No effort to boost his ego or establish his prestige among the readers.


No pursuit of earthly laudation or the praise of men.


No focus on his own accomplishments or burdens or interests.


In a word.....what is absent from this verse - and indeed the entire letter - is due to the presence of....humility.


Humility. 


What is it?  What benefit does it bring?  How do we get it if we want it?


First, what is it?  It's the antithesis of pride.  So a definition of pride is in order -- pride is not only self aggrandizement but also it's equally evil twin of self deprecation.  Pride, we must understand, is not only thinking too much of oneself - it's also thinking of oneself too much.  That shows up in boasting of achievements as well as hosting a pity party.  The key component is focus on self
Humility, then, is a proper view of self.  We see ourselves as in desperate need of a Savior - unable to save oneself through anything we could possibly do or be - and  a pathetic "zero" without Him.  Simultaneously, humility enables us to see ourselves as precious and valuable and significant to the Savior.  So much so that He designed us to be in relationship with Him, He pursues us incessantly, and He transforms us to reflect His glory. 


And humility sees others (and their needs, accomplishments, burdens) as more important than our own.  Humility doesn't get caught up in one's own highs or one's own lows but instead focuses on ministering to others.  Humility is so focused on others that there is no room to think about impressing them with who we know or what we've done.


What benefit does humility bring?  James himself tells us in chapter 4, verse 6 - But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  God's support - instead of His opposition -- that's the benefit of humility.  God's support in the form of guidance when I don't know what to do.  Wisdom to solve problems.  Strength when I'm weary.  His favor over the plans of my life.  His encouragement when I want to give up.  Instead of His insurmountable opposition.


Yes, the benefit of humility is more desired than anything else. Indeed, we want it.  So, how do we get it?  James tells us that, too.  Just a few verses down.  Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you (4:10)


Humble yourself.  Be aware of your need for His grace and your inability to help yourself.  Acknowledge the propensity of self-focus and intention your gaze to Him instead.  When we see Him for Who He is, we can't help but see ourselves in proper perspective.
Instant humility.
And in walks grace.


And we are all in need of grace.


So are our relationships.


I can't think of a single relationship or a single situation that wouldn't be helped immensely by the presence of --- and hurt perhaps irreparably by the lack of --- humility. 


The H factor. 
James had it.
I want it, too.