Daily Update #294
James 3: 17-18
17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James is expanding on two kinds of wisdom. Yesterday Mike wrote about the kind that most people have and that the church then was exhibiting. It is wisdom rooted in the world, the flesh and the devil. It is primal, reacts badly, selfishly, in a them and us way that separates rather than brings unity, hurts rather than heals and generates more heat than light. Imagine if G7 or NATO were dominated by such attitudes. That would not look wise at all.
The wisdom James calls us to seek comes instead from above and he describes what it is. He lists in v17 great qualities that we should all nurture and they are of course the opposite of the earthly wisdom we so often present. Three key qualities emerge:
Peaceable – concern for peace for all we can reach
Considerate – willing
Submissive – persuadable
These qualities are remarkably similar to the Beatitudes that Jesus taught and they in turn produce lives full of mercy and good fruit. Here James means simple acts of mercy. Often we think that we need to build up enormous amounts of spiritual energy to make breakthroughs in the lives of those we love around us. It is as though Jericho becomes our main model or mission. It takes seven days or marching and a lot of shouting. But I wonder if working out the Christian life with those around us is actually far, far simpler than that.
I recently listened to someone recount the impact that playing with his nephew and niece had on his sister in law. She felt that their children were often overlooked at family gatherings. His time with them spoke volumes in terms of love, care, consideration. Peaceable, considerate, submissive. What helps me grasp this, is that this wisdom, this kind of spirituality is from above. It is divinely inspired and energised. We will read next week that it is unlimited, for he gives more grace, (4:6) to all our situations. But it is something James writes is available now.
When faced with the regular choices of life, knowing whether I am reacting out of worldly wisdom, or heavenly purpose is evidenced in my actions. Theman who had made such an impact on his sister in law had prayed in advance of their family gathering, knowing that he had a tendency to just let things happen. When the opportunity arose to be gracious, his heart was already ready. The energy was already stored up, waiting for the right moment.
Father help me to live this day to the full, being true to you in every way.
Jesus help me to give myself away to others, being kind to everyone I meet
Spirit, help me to seek the lost, proclaiming Christ in all I do and say.