Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But 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. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
Since these verses have so much meaning I have been inspired to visit them again. The above text comes for the third chapter of James’ letter. Unlike Paul’s many letters that were written to one particular congregation, James’ singular letter included in our modern day Bible was specifically written to Christians in general. That is it was initially written as intended doctrine not to address a particular problem found in a single church and then later applied to all.
It helps us understand that there are two kinds of wisdom in this world. One is self-centered and worldly, the other is from God. As usual James says “walk the walk”, “actions speak louder than words”, “don’t be all talk” or any other of your favorite sayings. When you do good deeds they must come from humility. If they are done for self-seeking reasons they are tainted from the very beginning.
Another lesson is that humility comes from wisdom. Whatever is the opposite of humility certainly does not come from wisdom but from selfish ambitions. Here are some antonyms for humility: arrogance, assertiveness, egoism,pretentiousness, pride, self-importance. Take your pick as to which might apply. Being full of yourself does not come from wisdom. James goes on to even say that pride, self-importance, and all the other descriptions comes from the devil himself!
James mentions “peace” several times in his description of heavenly wisdom. He also includes “full of mercy”. Jesus also said “blessed are the peacemakers”. Peacemakers seem to be a central part of what it means to follow Christ. Where does that leave those who think that war is the answer to all of today’s problems? Let us always look for way to make peace before immediately plunging into war….