Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

James 3:13-17 – Wisdom from above

James indicates that some of his readers had the wrong kind of wisdom at this stage in their Christian lives. They were marked by bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. It was a form of false wisdom, but those who used it would have tried to justify their behaviour.

In contrast to such sinful attitudes, James mentions seven features of heavenly wisdom in verse 17: it ‘is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.’
First, the obvious example of wisdom in practice is Jesus, and we are told that increasing in wisdom was the way that people described him as a child and teenager (Luke 2:52). His hometown people marvelled at his wisdom (Matt. 13:54). If we were to rephrase verse 17 and say that Jesus was ‘first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere,’ we would have an accurate description of his life. Christlikeness includes becoming like this.
Second, the features mentioned in verse 17 are visible and relational. An individual cannot be a secret wise person, nor can he be an isolated wise person. Wisdom by definition involves sharing with and interacting with others. This wisdom can be described as loving ones neighbour.
Third, we are to remind ourselves of what James says in 1:5, which is that we can ask God to give us this wisdom in a generous manner, which implies sufficiency so that we should always know what to do in a situation. So if I am not wise, it indicates that there is something wrong with my prayer life.
As far as the seven features of true wisdom are concerned, James seems to indicate that purity is the basic feature upon which the others will grow. Purity is more than ceasing from wrong practices. Jesus spoke about the pure in heart who see God. This does not mean obtaining a visible sight of him. Instead it describes a person who is in contact with God, and whose heart, although still affected by sin, has been changed. James is indicating that without conversion a person cannot have spiritual wisdom.
The remaining six features are obvious in their meaning. Remember James is describing a consistent and not an occasional way of life. All of them are expressions of brotherly love. 

What is the point of wise living? James says that wisdom is concerned with producing a future harvest of righteousness. Without his seven features of true wisdom, there will be no harvest.

No comments:

Post a Comment