A brother at church asked if he might address me as James, even though I usually go by Jim. I think the name Jim always seemed right to me, not because James was too formal, but because my given name conveyed a dignity I felt I lacked. Though I don’t know exactly why he opted to address me as James, I like to think it’s out of respect and brotherly love.
I’m certainly not worthy of my namesake, Jesus’ brother James, as his reputation in Jerusalem was that of a wise and holy man. In fact, they referred to him as “Yakub the Sadiq.” While speaking with an unrelated woman in public was disgraceful in those days, Yakub did it routinely, and no eyebrows were raised because he was trusted.
For years I’ve prayed for that kind beyond reproach reputation, and for years I’ve fallen short. But I’m gaining on it. My vision is to have my inner thoughts and motives as pure as my outward actions.
Am I a hypocrite, because what goes on inside is different from what I do? I suppose that depends on your definition of hypocrisy. I like to think of it as exercising a modicum of self-control, and such small victories in my thought-life represent huge leaps of spiritual growth, at least for me.
My Mission Impossible is to be like Jesus. For years I suffered frustration, even anger, for falling short of that ambition. I allowed the enemy to snare me with self-condemnation, and I occasionally succumb to that temptation even now, but understand that it is not of God. Instead, it is from the enemy of my soul(Romans 8:1).
Even though, as everyone, I haven’t reach the standard of holiness Jesus raised, I now don’t mind hearing myself addressed as James. It’s a reminder of who I want to be, and by God’s grace, will become.