Joy Filled Greetings
By Sharon Musgrove
“This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!”
James 1:1 NLT
Vacationing on the Hawaiian Islands is a true delight! Sunshine, warm ocean breezes and vibrant blue waters are a soothing balm to my frazzled mainland soul. Conversely, the zesty pineapple and sweet papaya revive my taste buds during winter’s lull in fresh produce at home. It is a sensory feast that contrasts the gray days of Oregon.
While I delight in all the tangibles, it’s the Hawaiian “Spirit of Aloha” that I desire most. This spirit of aloha is a lifestyle of love and unity the people embrace. The Hawaiian word Aloha is associated with hello and goodbye, but also means love, kindness, compassion, and grace. So, when greeted with, Aloha, it is more than an acknowledgment that we see each other. The heart behind the word says, May there be friendship and love between us!
I want in on that.
It turns out, the early church also had a single word of greeting that included in its meaning, not only love, but the good news of Jesus Christ! “Greetings” is the Greek word “chairein,” which also means rejoice!
My favorite use of this word in the New Testament occurs in James 1:1 (NLT) (italics mine):
“This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes” —Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!”
There are two amazing things about rejoice as a greeting here. First, James describes himself as being a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ...and he is happy about that! James writes to Jewish refugees, a people ousted from home, with generations of oppression in their history. Yet he reminds and encourages them with a good news attitude. Rejoice!
Secondly, James continues, post-greeting, to encourage believers by suggesting they should consider the trials they continue to encounter as “opportunity for joy.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 NLT
How, on earth, do you rejoice when feeling cut to the bone?
James reminds that while we reside physically in a world that hurts us, God is using that hurt to spiritually heal us by making us less like people who persecute, and more like Himself. Allowing God to work in us, we’re moving ahead in His Kingdom, rather than squirreling in a cage. He brings His Kingdom to earth, through His love working within us.
That is our sunshine on a dark day...our trip to Hawaii in winter . . . Jesus Christ died and resurrected for the reconciliation of the world! Man unified with God and unified with one another, sounds like paradise!
Can you feel the sun and taste the pineapple?
When focused on the dark days, we tend to forget the good news our faith promises. We need to participate with a more constant reminder of God’s “Aloha Spirit”.
So, what if we change our greetings to help us remember God’s Kingdom ways? What if we lead with a salutation that is encouraging, both to ourselves and our neighbors? One that reminds the truth of the Spirit of God? Would you see rainbows on your stormy days?
Let me be the first....
My name is Sharon, and I am writing to you, my fellow follower of Jesus . . . rejoice!
Sharon has been writing and teaching biblically based curriculum, Bible studies, and devotionals since 2007.
She has had the unique position of writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both programs primarily served women in the homeless community.
Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She’s been privileged to speak in Leadership camps intended on encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young women.
Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.
Sharon and her husband, divide their time between Oregon and Hawaii. They have two grown children.
Currently, Sharon is encouraging others via her inspirational blog, but prefers sharing face to face. Additionally, she is working towards a degree in Ministry.
Connect with Sharon:
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