James begins his epistle with the following words: “James, a bondservant of God …” (Jas. 1:1). It is amazing that James introduces himself as a bondservant (i.e. slave) of the Lord Jesus Christ – after all, he was the brother of Jesus (cf. Galatians 1:19). If we were Jesus’ brother, we would certainly not call ourselves Jesus’ slave. We would be proud of our heritage. But James was different. He was aware that with God there is no respect for the person. Later James writes:
It is so healthy for every believer to see himself as a slave of God. Then we do not think highly of ourselves, but humble ourselves under the hand of the Master Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, we are all proud. We will not be told anything and are not willing to be humiliated. This is the reason why there are so many problems in the church. If we were aware that we are only slaves, the church could save itself many problems.
A slave does only what his master asks him to do. This was already recognized by the psalmist:
We call Jesus our Lord, but often do what He did not command us to do at all. We have our own opinion and idea of what and how something should be done. At the same time, these things are not necessarily bad, but Jesus did not tell us to do them. The Bible calls this the sin of presumptuousness (cf. Psalm 19:14). Whenever we do something in our self, it harms the church instead of helping her. What kind of slaves are we if we can’t even let our opinions be? Especially when we don’t like something in the church, criticism immediately bursts out of our mouths. For this we must repent. Let us become true slaves of Jesus Christ!
Basically, we are not even worthy of being slaves of Christ. We are fallen, sinful human beings. But Jesus Christ bought us with his own blood. We no longer belong to ourselves, but to Him alone. That we may serve Him as slaves today is a privilege. We all need a humble attitude before God. Even if we have done what Jesus commanded us to do, we are not to be proud of it. Jesus says:
Such an attitude will save the church from many problems. We are not only slaves, but unprofitable slaves. Can we say this from the heart? Like James, let us learn to be such slaves!