By what WE do, as well? (part 11)
So after two chapters and twelve verses, James poses a question in James 3:13: “Who is wise and understanding among you?” Or in the context of what James has covered so far: “Who is truly skilled in the righteous life that God desires?” (1:20).
And after a lifetime now of “going to church,” starting early in my childhood attending church every Sunday, and years of learning and teaching since, what proof can I offer that I’m truly skilled in the righteous life God desires?
Well that’s easy to prove, James adds, “just show it by your good life,” James 3:13. The proof that we’re truly catching on to what God wants for all us humans, is the obviously good life we’re living.
And it’s meant to be obvious too, Philippians 2:14-16 – “Do all that you do without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be God’s children, blameless, sincere and wholesome, living in a warped and diseased world, and shining there like lights in a dark place. For you hold in your hands the very word of life.”
In a dark world we shine as lights by the obviously blameless, sincere and wholesome lives we’re living, characterized especially by what comes out of our mouth, and in particular no grumbling or arguing.
But how on earth is that possible when we can see how wrong and sick the world is, and how much better off we are from living by God’s word? What’s to hold us back, therefore, from criticizing and condemning the stupidity and hypocrisy that characterizes just about every aspect of our world? How can we not spill out on occasion our disgust at how people are acting?
And be also tempted, perhaps, to mouth off about how good we are by comparison, like: “Well, if I was in charge things would be very different” – or “If I was that child’s parent, I’d know exactly what to do,” etc.
But James adds a codicil to verse 13, that the good life we show is “by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom”…(more on this tomorrow)