By what WE do, as well? (part 14)
Salvation in James 3:13 is the “humility that comes from God’s wisdom,” because it saves us from so much of the hurt and chaos caused by the “envy and selfish ambition” of the devil’s wisdom.
Imagine how much trouble our churches would be saved from, therefore, if we were all “peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions,” verse 17. What a display we could be of what God’s good living looks like, and what a light in the darkness of a world that can never stop conflicts, and how “peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness,” verse 18. God set up his church to be such a light, and promised his wisdom in great generous dollops to make it possible.
The test on us then, is do we believe his promise of wisdom? According to James it’s a good idea if we did, because life in this world doesn’t make being a peacemaker easy. People in high office exploiting fear, fomenting hate, confusion and division, for instance, can make us highly critical and condemning, and vocally so too. Which in turn can make us quarrelsome and argumentative, and a rather unpleasant person to be around. So much for raising a harvest of what good living looks like.
That really came home to me during the pandemic when I found myself becoming very angry at our government leaders, and feeling the need to express it too. Which was dead against Peter’s admonition in 1 Peter 2:17 to “Show proper respect to everyone,” including “honouring the king” – meaning anyone in a position of authority (verses 13-14).
To me that was a test I could not pass. But James’ point is that we prove our faith by our works. Well, God made a promise to give me the humility that comes from his wisdom – so – could I take the nasty critical thoughts toward our leaders that I cherished expressing, and like Abraham taking his cherished son to be sacrificed, be willing to sacrifice them too?
Fortunately, yes. Just like that too. Out went all my sources of anti-government justification, and I haven’t watched them since. And has it ever been my salvation. No longer angry. And all because of believing what God says, proving one’s belief by acting on it, and seeking his wisdom to make it possible. And that’s the salvation James is talking about – that we can experience in this life now, again and again and…
(A new series, entitled The Promise, starting tomorrow)