James 3.17 (The Message)
Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others.”
A Word of Hope
It’s texts like today’s assigned reading (James 3:13 – 18) that convince me that a book with writings dating as early as the 2nd millennium BCE (the book of Job) is still relevant. Sure there are myths and culturally-grounded references that don’t make sense today but there are plenty more insights and truths that have stood the test of time that are worth contemplating and living by.
The really good ones can be tough to take in, to examine, to apply to my life. They make me feel uncomfortable and challenge me. It is tempting to use Biblical precepts to judge others. But what about examining myself? How do I measure up to the expectations I am so willing to set for others?
So, let’s turn to James. A good place to start is the verse “Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom.” Citing examples of this behavior from today’s media headlines (a stable genius, anyone?) is too easy. But what about my behavior? Do I set myself up as the arbiter of knowledge and correctness? Do I assume I am always right and the other person is always wrong?
And to go a step further: while I might dislike and protest against a politician’s policies, that doesn’t give me permission to disparage the people who voted for him. And just because a preacher or church may espouse a doctrine I denounce, that doesn’t permit me to speak ill of those in the pew.
It is hard to live up to the standard James sets in verse 18: “You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”
God of my being, may I be known for my gentleness, reasonableness, overflowing with mercy and blessings. Not my self-ascribed so-called wisdom.