James (part 3) A Position of Honor by Ben Fronczek


James (part 3) A Position of Honor

A James (Part 3) A position of Honor
So what was Jesus’ vocation growing up?
In Mark 6:3 it someone was quoted saying,  “Is not this the carpenter the son of Mary and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?”
And in Matthew 13:55 someone is quoted saying“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary?”
In both verses the word carpenter is the English translation of the Greek word ‘tekton.’ Now this word, tekton is not what we commonly know as a carpenter in our day. The actual word that was penned in these texts more commonly refers to “one who works with his hands.”   In a general sense it could refer to a carpenter or a stonemason. Usually if someone wanted to describe a carpenter, they more commonly would use a phrase like, “a tekton of wood;” if a mason, then “a tekton of stone.”
The absence of either stone or wood as a modifier indicates that the gospel writers didn’t specify which occupation Jesus and his father were engaged in. In the original Greek, Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55 simply say that they worked with their hands… they were mere laborers who performed physically demanding work; and socially it was the lowest level jobs.
To be clear, we don’t have any record in the New Testament of Jesus working with wood, laying stones, or helping his dad Joseph out in the shop. The only references we have to Jesus’ vocation are here when He was called a tekton, and the son of a tekton.
I have even heard that such individuals were considered to be on a lower social scale than a slave. Most slave were given very specific jobs and were usually taken care of by their masters because they were not only an investment and personal property, many were part of the master’s household or personal staff.
But a tekton did whatever work his hand could find to do to make a living.     In many ways he was a lot like a handyman or a general laborer. So more than likely, Jesus and his brothers and sisters grew up in a very, very low income household.
I could not help but wonder what James and his fellow sibling thought about the whole scenario of Jesus living like that and working so hard with His hands all those years, especially later after they learned who He really was… He was the Messiah, God who took on flesh, the Lord of all lords. Yet He chose to live in a humble household and work hard while He lived amongst them.
I would imagine after they realized who Jesus was they felt honored that He chose them and their humble household over a family with a high social standings and money.
And so again I say that when James wrote his epistle he wrote from a different perspective than most having spent all those years with Jesus.
No they probably did not have many material possessions, nor did they have a fancy house or clothes, or much of anything. But they did have one another. And I’m sure that their household was filled with family love, close kinship, and probably good spiritual guidance and teachings.
If you were Mary and Joseph and you had all those revelations about your first born son before and after His birth wouldn’t you make sure your family was well grounded in the best religious teachings you could get for them?
And as we read the writings of James and Jude we can see that they understood more than the letter of the Law, they had some interesting spiritual insights, dept and understanding.
So they may not have grown up with money, but it seems to me that they had those things which are more important than cash in the bank and a big house on a hill. As a matter of fact James has much to say in this epistle  about those who are wealthy in contrast to those who are not.
In James chapter 1, after telling those early Christians to consider looking at their trials in a positive light, and then telling them to turn to God for wisdom and understanding if they need it, James writes:“Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.”  (1:9-11)
As a matter of fact James has a few things to say about those who are wealthy in this letter. In Chapter 2 he instructs the brethren not to show a rich person favoritism over someone who is poor. Why because he mentions the fact that it’s the wealthy who are exploiting and taking unfair advantage of everyone else, and sometimes even blaspheming the name of our Lord.
In chapter 4:13f James warns the rich not to go about thinking or assuming they are above everyone else in the grand scheme of things.  (Read 4:13-15) 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
And then finally in the last chapter James put down a stern warning to those who are wealth and taking advantage of others. Read 5:1-6  “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.”
So back to chapter 1. where he writes, Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.”
So I ask, ‘Is James simply focused on bashing those with a lot of money and material possessions?’
I think not!  I don’t think James had it in for people who have money.
I think he understood that you can be as poor as dirt and still be rich in things that really matter like; feeling appreciated and being loved by your family and friends, and knowing at the end of the day you’ve done your best with what God has given you, and best of all, having a close intimate relationship with your Lord and God. Anybody that has those things whether their pockets are full of money or totally without, is rich indeed.
Jesus later told the church in Smyrna ” I know your afflictions and your poverty–yet you are rich!” (Rev. 2:9)                                                                  
And Paul says in Eph 1:18. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints,”
When a person has a high position with Christ, and is surrounded by those who love him, that is so much greater or higher than any earthly high position.
That is why the poor and humble can rejoice – for those who have these things are truly rich. Whereas those who have a lot of money, and property and things, and worldly prestige, but do not have a good home life, and love, and kindred spirits, and those who do not have a relationship with our Lord and His peace and those who do not understand what He is all about; such people are the poorest of all people.
Only when these people humble themselves and realize that they are in just as much need as we are, will they turn to the One who can save us all.
Some people in the Bible were quite well off but then learned the truth concerning this matter. Paul eventually figured this out … In  Phil 4:11-13 he wrote “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
I believe as James grew up in his family along with Jesus they all learned that true riches had little to do with having material possessions. Unfortunately people then and now are oblivious to the value of what James is saying here.
Unfortunately many who live in poverty are tempted to be unhappy and envious.  And the rich are tempted by not being satisfied and wanting more.
I like what Paul said, ‘I have learned the secret of how to be content in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.’      And what did he learn?    It’s all about ‘Christ who gives us strength and having a relationship with Him!
“Christ who gives me strength.   Not strong muscles, but rather peace, inner strength, conviction, and purpose that is pleasing to our Lord. And having those feelings and attributes are worth so much more that fancy things or lots of money.
Have you learned this secret for yourself of how to be truly rich?  Do you feel rich or do you feel unhappy like you deserve more?
James is not saying that there is anything wrong with being wealthy. God blessed many with riches to in the Bible:  Abraham, Solomon – even Barnabas was a wealthy real estate man in Jerusalem. We know that because he sold some of his land to help those in need.
The danger of wealth comes into play when we start to depend on those possessions and wealth for inner peace and happiness.
It’s a danger when we think what we have shows how important we are, or if we begin rely on it for our security.
It becomes a danger when we forget how to live life and enjoy it because we are always chasing after more money, or something nicer, or bigger.  
Jesus said “What good is it if you gain the whole world but loose your soul.”
So how do we apply this in our lives?
…By not allowing ourselves to be caught up in the trap of materialism.
…Stop living for things, to get things, to get more and more.
…Don’t let this way of thinking trap you.  Learn to enjoy your life and those around you. Accept their love and love them back. Use what God has already given you to the best of your ability, those are His gifts to you.Take pride in what you do and do it well.
…And nurture and enjoy your relationship with our Lord; learn to put Him and His will first, and you will find that inner peace and happiness that surpasses all understanding.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566