James 3:13-18 NLT
“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
17 But 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 favoritism and is always sincere.18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”
In my NLT Bible, the heading for these verses is ‘True Wisdom Comes from God’. That, I believe, is undeniable. We can read books, take classes, and talk to experts about any subject, but ultimately, true wisdom is gained from our Father in heaven. With the current state of our world today, we need His wisdom now more than ever.
To me, it feels like everyone across the globe is arguing, debating, one-upping each other, and lashing out. I see it in the news, on social media, and in daily life. Everyone is fighting – politicians, scientists, doctors, talk show hosts, and Christians. We have all been directly affected by a global pandemic. We are all facing fear, confusion, isolation, anger and illness (both mental and physical). But what are we doing about it?
Verse 13 says we show our understanding of God’s ways in how we live. So, how are we living right now? Are we living selfishly? Jealously? Are we spreading lies and propagating the ‘fake news’? Or are we offering hope, compassion, and patience?
I understand the many emotions people are feeling these days. I feel them too, especially living alone in a foreign country while our world is in chaos. However, each time I’m tempted to get angry, or wallow in self-pity, or feel jealous of those who are close to family, I ask God for help. I ask for wisdom in how to respond to the current situation.
When I was young, it was popular for Christians to wear bracelets with WWJD – ‘What would Jesus do?’ I never had one, and they are much less common now, but it’s a question I still ask regularly.
What would Jesus do? Would He get angry and march in protests, demanding that church be reopened because it is essential? I know He believes, as I do, that church is essential, but church is so much more than a place to go on Sunday morning. The church is not a building. We, Christ followers, are the church.
So, how do we be the church at a time where we can’t gather together in person? We can call a member of our church who lives alone just to chat and see how they are. We can deliver groceries to the doorstep of the elderly couple down the street, so they don’t have to put themselves at risk by going to the store. We can start an online Bible study or prayer group that meets via Zoom/Skype/Google Meet. The options are endless.
Are we truly seeking God’s wisdom during this tumultuous time, or are we giving in to the world around us? Verse 17 says wisdom from above is pure, loving, peace-keeping, gentle and merciful. Are we loving our neighbours as Jesus commanded us? Are we being gentle to those we disagree with? Are we doing our part to bring peace, and to protect those around us?
True wisdom comes from God. Let us not forget that. Always seek Him first. Let Him be your guidance and your way. Bring love. Bring peace.
“And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18, NLT