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.
James 3:13-18 NIV
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 missed church on Sunday due to my son’s out-of-town swim meet, so I listed to Matt’s sermon online here the other day. These verses remind me of how Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-24. Both of these passages describe the way we should live as Christians: peace-loving, considerate, merciful. Practically, how can we display these characteristics of wisdom? As I was thinking about these verses, I noticed that they are connected to how we use our tongues. There isn’t a new heading in James’s original letter; the words just continue. He is talking about how we use our tongues for praising and cursing and his words flow directly into what wisdom looks like.
When James wrote his letter, people spoke words and occasionally wrote letters. We still use our words in those ways, but we also use our words on our computers, in emails and on social media. As I was reading some things on social media this week, I was struck by how it seems that people who represent Jesus well with their oral words can sometimes seem to forget that their words online should still meet this standard of wisdom. Just because there is a computer screen in front of you and not a real person does not mean that real people can’t be hurt by our words. Simple things like being positive and encouraging rather than angry, dismissive or negative on someone’s post is a way that we display our “wisdom”. Social media can actually be one of the hardest places to sow peace in our world.
Take a moment to evaluate how you have implemented this passage this week, How have you used words on social media? How have you sown peace in this world? How have you displayed heavenly wisdom to others? Or are you displaying envy and selfish ambition?
Tomorrow we move into chapter 4 where we will be talking about fighting. That’s the opposite of peace. Don’t forget to spring forward one hour on all of your clocks and come hear what James has to say to us this week.