Regarding Scripture: James 3.13-18
Is there someone that you look up to in the congregation? Who is it? Most likely there is someone who you believe symbolizes what you believe Christianity to be. Who are they? What kind of Christianity do they espouse?
All of us have someone we look up to – someone who has given of themselves, their time, and/or their energy with us. Depending on our needs, the one helping us seems to be wise in their approach to life. Yet, as we move past our moment of need and navigate further down the river of life, we sometimes discover that those who we once looked up to as wise do not seem to be as wise as they once did. The question is: why?
James 3.13 provides an important character quality that reveals why we come to view some people as unwise, once we have experienced life more fully.
This verse in James asks a contemplative question, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?” This question is closely associated with the thoughts we are considering today. But it is the answer that James provides to the question that also addresses our quandary. If one is wise in the congregation, they will, as the ESV translates it, be of “good conduct… [showing]…works in the meekness of wisdom.” Meaning that they are actively demonstrating their faith.
We mentioned earlier that we altered our perception of someone we once considered wise. The question asked was: why? The answer is: because as people individually mature, they become capable of seeing frailties and inconsistencies in others, which reduces others wisdom in their eyes.
Unfortunately, none of us begins our adult life with true wisdom. Oftentimes, wisdom is hard bought. The same is true for spiritual wisdom.
However, it is necessary that we realize that every one in the congregation is growing, and learning what it means to be a Christian – a Christian who is a servant and helpful.
The closing verses of James chapter 3 describe the actions of those who are wise. Those who have wisdom seek to help the brethren by making peace. However, this peace is not easily obtained.
Verse 14 tells us that peace must be obtained without using the wisdom of the world, which uses bitter envy and strife that results in confusion and every evil work.
One who exercises godly wisdom possesses the qualities of James 3.17. This wise person is pure (carnally pure, preferring the sacred), peaceable (loving of peace), and gentle (of a mild disposition). The one who has this wisdom is also easy to be entreated (easily obedient, compliant), full of mercy (being kind to the afflicted; compassionate), and full of good fruits (beneficial acts/deeds).
Additionally, those who are godly-wise do not show partiality (preference) or hypocrisy (saying one thing, but doing another).
Going back to our introductory thought, as we mature, we unfortunately see some people who do not practice consistency. They espouse Christianity, but they make decisions using the wisdom of the world.
Without exception, there is not a single Christian who is perfect. After all, each Christian is only human. But we need worthwhile examples of Christianity. And it takes a tremendous amount of effort to be a worthy example, yet it can be done. As recorded in I Corinthians 11.1, Paul stated, “be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
Young as well as mature Christians need worthy examples of Christian wisdom – wise Christians who we not only to look up to, but also have as resources for life’s trials. We will be someone’s wise sage; what example of wisdom will we be?