“13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealously and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. 18 And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
In our second lesson for evening prayer today we are confronted with an important aspect of Christian living, discerning between Godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. At one Sunday School Retreat Bishop PJ Lawrence said that as Sunday School Teachers, we need to seek wisdom from God so that we can allow our children to grow as Jesus and John the Baptist did, in God’s wisdom so that they can be pleasing unto him. So this evening’s lesson reminded of this important aspect.
James has just been writing at length about how we use our tongues and the destruction that can occur when our own double-mindedness towards God and others is allowed expression through our words. James now turns to the deeper issue of wisdom. “Who is wise and understanding among you?” James asks. Wisdom is the knowledge we need to live in this life and to interact with our circumstances and with those around us. James compares the two basic sources for wisdom–from God or from the world around us.
All along James has been focusing on how to live as Christians in the midst of continuing, ever-present trials in a twisted and fallen world. The Christians he is writing to are struggling and their struggles have led them to be tempted to even question God’s presence, care, and activity in their lives. How are they (and we) to handle the pressures of devastating health or financial problems, loneliness, manipulative relationships, or the daily frustrations that pile up and so easily lead their (our) gaze away from the presence of their (our) heavenly Father? To know how to cope is to be wise.
Of course, James is clear from the start that the only true wisdom he believes exists is wisdom from God, or “from above” as he puts it later in the passage. To the one who is wise and understanding, James says, “By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” What is a good life? Is it one free of trial? No, it is a life that is lived out of the meekness of wisdom. So, first of all James is saying that wisdom is meek. What does he mean by this? Well, if we look back to the first chapter James encourages his readers that if they are ever lacking wisdom to ask God, “who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given to him.”(1:5) God is the true source of wisdom and is always willing to give it to us when we ask. In fact, the beginning of wisdom for James, is to be wise about the character of our good God and so to be willing to receive from Him.
This is why there is a meekness to wisdom. We are not wise on our own. We are God’s children–dependent on our heavenly Father to give us life, love, peace, joy, and wisdom to live. We are to allow this generous, giving God to give to us. This is the wise thing to do–to recognize that we are children who receive our life from our Father.
Prayer: Lord God you are the source of all good things. Please bestow upon me your wisdom, as Jesus and John grew in your wisdom, I pray that I too, may grow in your wisdom so that all I do, will be pleasing to you. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.