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Two Kinds of Wisdom September 28, 2015

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on James 3:13-18.

Summary: James begins by asking his readers if they possess true wisdom; if so, then they must honor their knowledge in practice and display prudent meekness in their behavior. He then modestly reproves them by stating that if they are envious – making them unpleasant to those with whom they have dealings – and have selfish ambitions in their hearts, then they should not boast about their zeal in censuring others or make a false pretense of wisdom. In fact, the wisdom that they display is not given by the Holy Spirit; instead, it:

  • is used for worldly purposes
  • arises from the soul
  • is in the devil.

That wisdom bears the fruit of unrest and all licentiousness.

James then states that in contrast, true wisdom bears the following fruits:

  • chastity
  • lack of contention
  • lack of strictness
  • generous readiness – either to be persuaded to what is good or dissuaded from what is evil
  • clemency
  • all human actions that go with good nature and grace
  • lack of judgment
  • lack of guile.

James concludes by asserting that those who have strong and heartfelt desires for peace – and care about holiness – will be sanctified and receive eternal life.

Thoughts: In verses 17 and 18, James exhorts his readers to be peacemakers. Manton offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 17:

They are peace loving, neither offering wrong to others, nor avenging wrong when it is done to themselves – which indeed are the two things that preserve human societies in any quietness, whereas violence and rigorous austerities disturb them. This is your wisdom, then: to be harmless and innocent…They are peacemakers, striving to bring about peace where it is lost. It is a thankless task to be a reconciler, but there is a blessing promised: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Reading Manton’s commentary on this passage spurred me to ponder the inherent difficulties of being a peacemaker. I must admit that whenever I observe two parties engaged in a dispute, I struggle with schadenfreude; my sinful nature delights in the fact that at least one offense has occurred, and I am gratified that their dispute has apparently placed them below my level. Thus, my sinful nature attempts to prevent me from attempting to resolve their dispute. Now if I can overcome my sinful nature in that regard, then I must also struggle with the temptation to view myself as a “gallant knight who rides to the rescue of the distressed.” Also, the parties engaged in that dispute may not appreciate my attempts to be a reconciler, as they may view my actions as being intrusive. Truly it is difficult to seek the best interests of those who are engaged in a dispute; we need God’s assistance to put their interests above our own and attempt to be a reconciler. I can attest that prayer and meditation have been invaluable in that regard.

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