Updated: Sep 27, 2021
UNDERSTANDING JAMES 1:1
James and others throughout Scripture refer to themselves as "bond-servants" of YHVH. This concept is reflects once choice to live a life of permanent service to a master they love. It is a willful choice that is sealed in the city gates for all to witness and attest to. As a bond-servant an individual would lay down their own will and purpose to seek the glory and success of their master for the rest of their lives. It is with this understanding we explored 2 or 3 critical precepts that govern the life of a true bond-servant. 1. The servant's life is not their own. While not relinquishing their humanity, they willingly set aside all their wants and desires to accomplish all their master has determined for them with humility and love. 2. The servant urgently goes about the work of the master. They do so without excuse, but rightly fear and love their master which leads them to humble obedience. This is only possible because a master was required to care for and love their servants, not as property but as humans designed in the image of their Creator.
3. The servant's work is to bring glory and/or fame to their master in reverent humility. This reality is based upon the fact the servant willingly lays down their own pursuits of glory and fame to support that of their master. Bond-servanthood is willful, joyful, self sacrifice in honor of the master they love.
The first two points we discussed in Part #1, the final point we will discuss in this part.
3. The Servant's work is to bring glory and/or fame to their master in reverent humility.
This particular characteristic flies in the face of our humanity in every form. We live in a self-centered, personal glory, and instant fame society. Yet, willingly relinquishing personal fame for the glory of the Master takes an immense amount of self control and humility that few in our modern society will ever fully realize. In this weird space where we find ourselves increasingly understanding what being a bond-servant to YHVH really means, we must reconcile the fact that we choose to become nothing outside of what the Master chooses to make us into.
To fully understand what it means to seek the glory and fame of our Master, we should look no further than the Messiah Yeshua, Himself.
John 17:4-7 esv
4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.
Yeshua offers a glimpse in His prayer about what it looks like to glorify our Master. Yeshua says He glorified the Master on earth by accomplishing the work His Master, YHVH, gave Him to do. What was the work God asked Him to do? Verse 6 tells us that Yeshua made God's name (YHVH) manifest to the people and showed them how to keep God's word. According to Yeshua we glorify God by doing the work He gave us by manifesting the name of YHVH to the world by showing them how to keep His word. This is not a new concept. This is exactly the work God told the Hebrews to do when He gave them the Law at Mount Sinai. Moses makes a similar statement in Deuteronomy 6
Deuteronomy 6:1, 2, 4-6 esv Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long...4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Moses makes some pretty profound statements that seem to foreshadow Yeshua's prayer to His Master and Father, YHVH. But how does keeping our Master's commands bring Him glory? Deuteronomy 4 reveals the answer. Deuteronomy 4:6-8 esv 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?
You see, as we follow God's instructions, commands, and statutes His way without all our opinions and pride and self-glory getting in the way, the nations will see Him in our obedience, and they will glorify God as a result. They glorify Him not because we are awesome, but as we obey they recognize His wisdom, His understanding, his closeness, and His love. What an amazing privilege it is to be a bond-servant of YHVH!
Yeshua and the apostles echo these sentiments all throughout their teachings.
Matthew 5:14-16 esv 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
1 Peter 2:1-12 esv 11 Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, 12 and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.
There are two undeniable truths in these passages.
We can't be a light to the world, if we are just as dark as the world, and it is our "works" that set us apart. It is the work of bringing glory to God by keeping and teaching others the Word of God.
It is our good conduct and deeds that brings God glory to the nations. Again, that "good" conduct can only be truly good if it is defined as "good" by the Master. It is not the deeds the world says is good, but the deeds the Master says are good that are actually good, because they reveal His character to all who see it.
1 Peter 2:15-17 esv 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Remember, the words of Peter echo God’s own words throughout the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 4:5-7 net
5 Look! I have taught you statutes and ordinances just as the Lord my God told me to do, so that you might carry them out in the land you are about to enter and possess. 6 So be sure to do them, because this will testify of your wise understanding to the people who will learn of all these statutes and say, “Indeed, this great nation is a very wise people.” 7 In fact, what other great nation has a god so near to them like the Lord our God whenever we call on him?
As a faithful servant we bring glory to God by obeying His commands, demonstrating His goodness and justice to the world. People see who He is through us. He willingly bought our debt so we should willingly honor and love Him by choosing a life as obedient, loving, humble bond-servants. When people see our love for Him through our obedience, then we offer a great light in a very dark world, and we bring glory and fame to the Master.
Rewards of faithful servanthood:
This was not listed as one of our characteristics of being a bond-servant, but as we discussed in Part #1, this is a side benefit of being a bond-servant to a just Master. We certainly do not become bond-servants for the rewards, the glory, or our fame, we do so out of love. This is not an attempt to glorify the gift instead of the giver, but it is a reality of our service to our Master.