Read James 3:13-18
13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (NIV)
James takes us in a way back to the beginning of the chapter where he says not all of you should teach. There is a saying that I used to hear a lot when I was younger. It was that those who can do something teach that thing. James is the exact opposite. You don’t teach it unless you can do it. When one studies the Gifts of the Spirit, there are two gifts that sound alike. They are Wisdom and Knowledge. Knowledge is to know something. In the Spiritual Gift, it is to know right and wrong. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. If we understand James, then we see he is asking who thinks they have both wisdom and knowledge. He answers, if you do, it must be evidenced by your actions.
This is one of the points pastors deal with. There are many who fall in the category of “Do as I say, not as I do.” James would say these are using earthly “wisdom.” They know the right things to say, but are doing the things that come of a desire for themselves first. Earthly wisdom is not all bad. We need to learn to take care of ourselves and plan for the future. But we should never let earthly wisdom take the place of heavenly wisdom. We should never let the earthly push aside the heavenly. When we do, we lose our witness to a degree.
James talks about what is the wisdom that comes from heaven. James tells us that wisdom that comes from heaven has an order to it. It begins with it being pure. This is why heavenly wisdom should always take precedent in all we do. The next aspect of this wisdom is that it is peace-loving. What we do should move toward peace, not away. This is something that is greatly lacking in our society today.
James then list the next aspects which are probably equal in status. And so, we see that James is asking each person, are our actions, considerate of others. Are they submissive in nature, putting the other person first? Are they merciful and fruitful? Are they impartial and sincere, having the right motive if you will?
James is asking each person to look at their life in action and measure it against this standard. It can be a humbling experience. But when done in the spirit James talks about, it does not condemn but like a good coach, shows us our growth areas and how to live a better life in the future. That is what I love about God. God is so much more a God of the future in my life than a God of the past. God is always working in me to bring about a better future than remind me of the past that could have been better.
How does your life measure up to these standards? Do you see room to grow? I know I still do and thankful God is working with me to get there.
Blessings and Peace: