”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.” – James 3:13-18
The book of James is a wonderful book in the Bible. Do you know why I love it? It challenges me. It challenges my faith and the way I choose to live my life.
The author Mark Allan Powell suggests that the letter of James presents Christianity as a way of life, not just a system of beliefs. It warns Christians against the dangers of being “double minded,” that is, trying to live by the standard that Christ has set and the standard set by the world.
Throughout James, we are given the choice to follow one of two paths: the path of life or the path of death.
James suggests that we can’t be in the middle; we must choose. So often, I think we choose the path of death.
Bitterness and envy are easy to find today. They are everywhere. Just take a look at your Facebook or Twitter feeds.
Do you know why bitterness and envy are so widespread? It’s because we practice them on a regular basis.
Despite this practice, we are still called to choose another path.
James says that any bitterness and envy in our lives is of our own making. We so often choose to sow these things into the world. But we can make a choice to practice something else: the path of life.
When we choose the path of life, what does it require?
It requires wisdom—trusting the wisdom that comes from God. It requires us to listen to God first before we listen to the demands of the world.
It requires humility—being humble and respecting others. It requires us to recognize that we are all God’s children, worthy of dignity.
It requires love and reflecting God’s love to others. It requires us to be brothers and sisters in Christ.
When we speak with wisdom, humility and love, we give and receive heavenly favor.
“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.”
I’d say it’s pretty hard today to choose the path of life, one of peacemaking, humility and grace. But it’s our calling, especially in a world of brokenness. And it’s our choice which path we choose.