By what WE do, as well? (part 12)
Back in James 1:5, James writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom,” which he ties in with becoming “mature and complete,” verse 4. So to become truly skilled in “the righteous life that God desires” (verse 20) is going to need God doling out wisdom to us “generously” (verse 5), and for us not to doubt for a second that he will (verse 6), because we will need it.
Because one thing that plagues us Christians is “considering ourselves religious” (verse 26) and “wise and understanding” (3:13), and maybe even fully qualified to teach God’s word as well (3:1), because of what we’ve discovered in God’s word, which creates in us the attitude that we’ve got things put together where others haven’t. I spent years in a church that thought that way.
And it sounds like James was dealing with people who thought that way too, who could not come to terms, therefore, with why God would put them through hard trials, when in their minds they were such “religious” people. And they were angry at God for treating them like that (1:19-20).
But it gave James the opportunity to explain why God’s wisdom was so important. Because it would take away their anger. It would stop them being critical and condemning, and set them on a whole new course of discovery that would truly make them skilled in the “righteous life that God desires.”
And it was all in that one word “humility” in James 3:13. So when James asks, “Who is (really) wise and understanding?” – or “Who’s the truly skilled, intelligent Christian?” – the key to that becoming real was “good deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” – humility also meaning “gentleness.”
What God’s wisdom would give them, therefore, was a change, even a transformation, in their personality. It would pump a different nature into them, so that the course of their lives would take a completely different turn. It would become the new rudder in their life, steering them away from being critical and competitive to being “peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions, with no hint of favouritism or hypocrisy, quietly sowing a harvest of righteousness – in other people and in themselves,” James 3:17-18…(more on this tomorrow)