“The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.” – T.S. Eliot, “East Coker”
Most of us have probably had this happen before: someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer. You fabricate one in your head, cross your fingers, blurt it out, and try to change the subject as quickly as possible. For me this has been a habit since childhood. I’m especially guilty when it comes to feigning awareness about political and cultural topics I haven’t researched. I want to start admitting how much I don’t know. Humility really is endless!
After I finished Colossians in early 2015, I picked James as my next book. I remember my Mom and sisters memorizing it when I was five. I would lay under the schoolroom table and listen to them review it. The imagery of a man wearing a gold ring, a large ship being steered by a small rudder, and a small spark devouring an entire forest caught my attention, but I was quickly distracted by the serious task of finding the right crayon color for my coloring page. Throughout grade school and college I heard sermons on James and participated in Bible studies on it. However, I continued to be distracted by other things, like finding the right color for my hair. (Spoilers: “radiant raspberry” wasn’t it 😛 )
At 22 I was striving to live in a godly way, but my efforts were often fueled by pride and the desire to win favor with God and others. I had caught glimpses of the reality that I couldn’t drum up holiness from inside of myself, but I was desperate need of an intent look into the perfect law of liberty. In His gracious way, the Counselor led me straight to the epistle of James.
Before I memorize something, I listen to it in several different translations. Practically, it helps me decide which one to use. Since I’m an auditory learner, it also impresses the overall shape of the text into my mind and heart.
I remember thinking as I listened through it, “So much of this is gonna be so helpful for Drew and Jude and my friends and family and people I haven’t even met yet. Man, they really need to pay attention to this.”
And then, as I learned and repeated each verse day by day and began reviewing it weekly, the Spirit began and continues to show me the reality of the situation. The one who really needs to hear and respond to James’ exhortations, rebukes, and calls to persevere is me.
By God’s mercy, this stunning realization hasn’t crushed me. He has kept His promise: He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). God knows everything. By the Spirit’s power, I’m free to walk daily in humility, receiving all that I need in Christ from my generous heavenly Father.
Next week I’ll share more about the incredible things I’m learning from the epistle of James! You can listen to to the Streetlights Bible recording here