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.
Too often Christians are guilty of standing up and shouting against the evils of this world with such anger and bitterness that we become the very thing we are speaking against.
The task for James, and all Christians, is to speak the truth without grumbling, bitterness, selfishness, and behavior like the “unspiritual wisdom” being called on the carpet in today’s passage. As Christians called to live in community with all kinds of people, we are challenged first to live lives marked by the fruit of the spirit. But we are also called to exercise humble wisdom by being peaceable and gentle. Only after we are actively living with humble wisdom like James can we call out the wickedness in the world around us with credibility and humility.
Bitterness, selfishness, and other unspiritual maladies create pain in individuals and those around them. These people believe themselves to be wise, but James calls such wisdom “earthly, unspiritual, devilish.” This kind of wisdom divides, speaks harshly, and creates disorder. Chapter four of James demonstrates how this type of broken-hearted wisdom leads to cravings for war, murder, adultery, and covetousness
So then, it is helpful to remember Christ’s encouragement to us to seek the kingdom of God first and then everything else will come into its proper order (Matt. 6:33).
There are many wicked things in our world, but speaking out against them must be second to our pursuit of the kingdom of God. True wisdom comes from seeking the kingdom first. When we exhibit the qualities of the kingdom, we demonstrate the difference between the “wisdom from above” and the “earthly, unspiritual, devilish” wisdom of the world.
Whenever we place an agenda over the kingdom, we have lost our focus. “Who is wise and understanding among you?” The one who knows truth and knows how to apply it to life.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
What sort of wickedness do you seek to sometimes attack before first seeking the kingdom of God? How might you actively or passively work against God?
Lord Jesus, give us the courage, the wisdom, the strength to always hold the kingdom of God as the number one priority in our lives. Help us live in response to the good wisdom from above and resist the wisdom of this world. Amen.
READ THE SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT:
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. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
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. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.