When we become a Christian, we are to give up the ways of the world. We are to quit trying to be the greatest in the eyes of the world. Jesus tried to explain and emphasize to his disciples, who knew it was wrong but still were in competition at times for the top position.
I suppose in some ways the Apostle Peter was greatest because he became the leader after Jesus’ death. He seemed to oversee the whole system of ministry. The Apostle Paul became the leader of the Gentiles in Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, Colossae, Phillipi, Macedonia, and Greece, even though he was sometimes challenged by others.
The Apostle John eventually became the leader of the church. He lived in a lot of places, but in the end, he spent his final years in Ephesus. He was the oldest Apostle, living until he died of natural causes.
James was not one of the original twelve apostles. He was the half-brother to Jesus and the writer of the Epistle of James. He is talking about what we need to do to be the greatest in the eyes of God, not man.
First, we are to be wise and have understanding. James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:17-18). The “works” are normally interpreted as doing good things for others, especially to those in the church and in our communities. Often these are shown through the working of food banks, helping the poor with rental and utility assistance, and in other ways that show the love of God and Jesus Christ our Lord. It is the way to show Jesus that we are serious about our faith.
But we must be careful in the process of showing that we are “for real” and showing the world that we really care. Otherwise, we may begin to slide into the trap that many churches and Christians fall into. They begin to lose sight that our salvation as Christians is not based on what we do through our labors, but through our faith in what Jesus has already done for us. Even though some faith groups promote a form of what we call “works righteousness,” that is not what James is talking about, nor what the Apostle Paul meant. We need to believe that Jesus took on the sins of the world, including ours, and that he died so that the price of sin is taken away. No other human being who ever lived can fulfill what he did. James explains that the works or labors we do for God need to be done with gentleness and wisdom. We are to get rid of envy and selfish ambition in our hearts. We are not to be boastful and false to the truth. When we are boastful, unspiritual, or devilish, we are not using wisdom from God, but from the world. This type of wisdom brings on wickedness and disorder.
Wisdom from God also is to be pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, and full of mercy and good fruits. It does not show partiality or hypocrisy. It shows mercy, not something you would kill or steal to get.
When we really desire something that is in agreement with what we know are Biblical Principles, instead of our struggling to get it, we should simply ask God to intercede, and as he returns his blessing to us for our commitment to him, we may simply be given it.
I know people who have prayed for transportation, housing, and many other physical needs and medical needs. Sometimes the Lord provides it immediately, either directly or through others. It may happen to you if you are sincerely going before the Lord in faith. How about you? Is Jesus your Lord and Savior? If not, how are you planning to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Being only a good person does not cut it.