The Everyday Girl Guide to: James and My Life (James 3:13-18)

July 11, 2013

Ah, the search for wisdom.  The ancient Greeks valued it so much that they worshipped Athena, goddess of wisdom (the Romans downgraded her a bit to Minerva).  King Solomon valued it more than riches or fame.  The Bible is full of advice on it… and James is no exception.

13 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. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 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. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:13-18

I’ll be honest with you, this isn’t normally the picture I get of wisdom.  There’s Yoda, grammatically-challenged, sitting on Luke’s back to train him.  In real life, there’s Stephen Hawkings, apparently very intelligent, who flatly declares there is no God.

James says wisdom is shown by a good life and deeds done “in the humility that comes from wisdom”.  Clearly, intelligence is not the same thing as being wise.  (Not to throw stones at Yoda, but his kind of wisdom is denounced as “earthly, unspiritual, demonic”.)

There’s a meme that’s been going around for years that says, “Teens!  Move out of the house and on your own while you still know everything!”  The implication, of course, is that teens don’t know everything.  In fact, the wisest people I know are the ones who realise just how much they don’t know.  Even those wise ones, though, might not make the hall of fame for this list of wisdom’s attributes:

  • pure
  • peace-loving
  • considerate
  • submissive
  • full of mercy and good fruit
  • impartial
  • sincere

There are several potential blog posts right there, but I hate losing readers, so I’ll keep it succinct (no, really). 

Wisdom is pure: without any unnecessary elements.  Far too often we try to puff up our wisdom with other things.  We get degrees; we ask for others opinions; we follow the latest popular televangelist or Christian author (ouch).  True wisdom comes from God… and nothing else.  (No additives or preservatives)

Wisdom loves peace… probably because peace is the most productive way to do things.  Want to stop a bill in Congress?  Bicker about it.  Want to get your parents to say no to a family outing?  Fight with your siblings.  Wisdom loves peace because peace is good for everyone involved.

Wisdom is considerate.  It’s very hard to be wise when you’re in the middle of a road-rage-induced moment of rudeness.  Your focus is on nothing but yourself.  Wisdom knows you get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Wisdom is submissive.  The verse doesn’t say who to submit to, but at the very least, I would say wisdom submits to God.  If wisdom is a wife, she submits to her husband.  (One day I’ll write a full post on my take on submission, but not today.)  If wisdom is a child, he submits to his parents.  Wisdom also submits to the authorities in power, so long as it doesn’t go against God’s law.

Wisdom is full of mercy and good fruit.  Not only does wisdom not hold a grudge (offering mercy), but wisdom is fruitful… in a good way.  No one can argue that Stephen Hawking is a productive man… but does he produce good fruit?

Wisdom is impartial.  I think this goes back to not honoring the rich over the poor, the famous over the unknown, or even the believer over the unbeliever.  Wisdom gives everyone a fair chance.

Wisdom is sincere.  It’s pretty easy (for some of us) to fake an action or a feeling long enough to get through a moment.  Wisdom takes the moment and uses truth to get through it.  I’m reminded of The Hiding Place, when Corrie’s family had to decide whether to lie or tell the truth.  The truth often got better results than the lies.

I’m not wise… not even close… so I’m sure some of that was a little, well, incorrect.  But it still makes me think.  Maybe, like with so many other things, being wise is more a matter of doing all the things that make you wise first.  If so, then I’d call this the first step on a very long road.

One Response to “The Everyday Girl Guide to: James and My Life (James 3:13-18)”

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