If there is such a thing as being kicked in the motivational backside, Jim certainly discovered it. We have been talking this week about what motivates us to get in gear and do the right thing. Jim serves as a great example.
Jim grew up in a large family with 3 brothers and at least 2 sisters. His home life was complicated by the fact that his mom had given birth to a son before Jim was born. He knew that his dad loved this older son just like the rest of the kids, but that half-brother wasn't his pop's real son.
It always bugged Jim that his older brother seemed to be "special" and Jim constantly felt a pang of jealousy over the matter. After all, he would have been the oldest if dad had just rejected the guy. Those sort of things happened sometimes -- a father would refuse to accept a child who wasn't really his own.
As they grew to adulthood, Jim pretty much had the support of his younger siblings and he enjoyed their loyalty in this little family rebellion. The whole matter took a huge turn for the worse after dad died. Jim felt the responsibilities of being their dad's oldest biological son, but his older brother seemed to always have a special bond with their mother.
The problems erupted like a volcano when the oldest boy started traveling out of town as part of his work. His job seemed to be in demand and his popularity started spreading like a prairie blaze. Soon, he didn't have time to even come home and check up on mom. Jim decided to jump into the situation and seize an advantage. He gathered up mom and the siblings and traveled to the place where the oldest boy was working at the time.
Well, you wouldn't believe what happened! The family arrived to see the oldest brother and he wouldn't even leave work long enough to say "Hi." He just sent word to the family that his work was too important to walk away just now. Mom seemed to take all this in stride, but Jim was livid!
After they got back home, Jim was even more angry because he could see some of the impact this was having on their mom. She sometimes traveled away with friends to find the oldest boy and catch some moments with him. Jim just couldn't understand why mom would do that. The kids were all grown by now, but she was rejecting them to go spend time with that "low life" who seemed to care far more for his work than for her.
He had a glimmer of hope, though. His older brother's popularity was countered by a strong and growing resentment on the part of his competitors. More and more, Jim heard whispers that some of these opponents were seriously looking for a way to decommission the oldest boy for good.
The older boy's troubles reached a flash point and Jim knew that the powder keg was about to explode. He took the younger boys and they set out to find their neglectful sibling and encourage him to travel on up to the biggest town in those parts. Jim knew that someone was setting a trap there. They were prepared to arrest the brother, try him on trumped-up charges and execute him nice and legal-like.
When they found him in one of the towns not too far from home, Jim and the others veritably dared him to go up to the "big city." It looked like the older brother was wise to them and wouldn't go, but lo and behold, he showed up a few days later.
Jim heard about the arrest and almost felt a little bad when he found out about the trial. Almost. Even he was surprised, though, at how quickly the verdict was announced. And then the execution was carried out that day! Mom was devastated and Jim felt horribly sorry for her. But he was sure she would finally figure out was a mess the guy was and come back home to the rest of the family.
Home. That's where Jim headed. Finally, he could have a normal life.
Until he heard the first whispered rumor.
He chuckled inwardly. He just couldn't imagine how much blind loyalty his brother's friends showed. "Fools!" he thought.
Then another rumor. Then someone Jim knew and trusted said...they saw him.
Then, a few days later, the word was out all over the hill country where they lived. Over 500 of his brother's friends were meeting to try to figure what in the world was going on. And his brother showed up and met with them!
Chaos! Jim flew into a rage. Could he never escape the reputation of this man? Was self-destruction his only way out?
Then. Suddenly. Jim was alone, pondering what to do. And his Brother was there. Just the two of them.
I'm not sure what was said in that meeting, but Jim's entire motivation changed that day.
Two millennia later, Jim's words still cry across history...
From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. To all of God’s people who are scattered everywhere in the world: Greetings.
(James 1:1 NCV)
To my dear readers, some of whom I may never meet face to face...
The story of James (Jim), the son of Mary and Joseph, must be pieced together from a variety of Scriptures. These include Matthew 13:55, Luke 8:19-21, John 7:3-4, and 1 Corinthians 15:7. James very quickly went from being a skeptic to the recognized leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15) and is the author of the little book that bears his name. I have taken liberty with this little story to shade in between the lines where the Scripture is not clear. It is, though (I believe), a reasonable perception of the life of James. Before he was changed.
I, too, have at times been skeptical. I have often been resentful of Christ's intrusion. When I was young, I wanted to live life the way I wanted to live it.
But, at various unexpected moments, He touches me. Not physically, as He did with James, but with His unmistakable quiet voice as the lover of my soul.
And THAT is what motivates me!