Wisdom from above
The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere. James 3:17
I wonder what sort of person you would most like to be. I suspect many of us would love to look something like James’ description here of a wise person. He has spent the last few verses talking about those destructive attitudes which can so easily ruin life – jealousy, selfish ambition, boasting and lying. One senses that he is speaking from personal experience; that he has witnessed the pain and suffering that flow from people whose lives are dominated by selfishness. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If we allow God’s wisdom to shape our lives, everything can look very different, for his wisdom is pure, without anything to spoil it.
James was clearly concerned about the false teachers who were continually stirring up disputes and tension. Wise people are quite different. They love peace, and spend their time promoting it because they know it is the only environment in which people grow. While there is aggravation and unhappiness, people become wearied and discouraged. A wise person knows that making peace demands hard work, but it is always worth the effort.
Gentleness is another crucial quality. Strong arm tactics never achieve peace and blessing. Gentleness is what we always see in the life of Jesus. It doesn’t mean we are weak, but that we are prepared to use our strength in a loving and thoughtful way. When we live with that kind of gentleness, we are willing to yield to others. We won’t always insist on our own way, and will gladly listen to other points of view, adjusting our thinking accordingly.
In this passage, James is really giving his version of the fruits of the Spirit which we read about in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The truth is that all these beautiful qualities live together. If you know God’s peace, it will lead to patience, faithfulness, gentleness, mercy and sincerity. They are the fruit which naturally grow in us when the Holy Spirit takes control, and they are as vital today as when James wrote his letter.
What do you think are the key qualities of a wise person?
Lord God, I invite you to fill me with your Holy Spirit so that your fruit will increasingly grow in my life. Amen