Daily reading: James 3:13-4:3; 7-8a
June 20, 2015

Focus scripture: Are any of you wise and understanding?  Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. James 3:13

God desires that we take the Word of God seriously and apply it to our daily living:  The Word that teaches us to care for the needy and the poor, the orphan and the widow.   James challenges us to take what we say seriously and to be careful with our words.

Now if we try to boil James down to just a focus on what we do and what we say then we will probably end up looking like we have only read the first half of his letter.  His letter is much more about wisdom than it is about works and that is the focus of the rest of his letter.

The questions that James offers to this ancient community are echoed to us today.   The first question which runs throughout the entire letter and is stated in other wisdom literature in the bible is “how do I live a good life?”   It is a question that is reflected in the other sources of wisdom literature in the bible, like what we find in Proverbs and in Ecclesiastes.   Notice that the question begins with the word “how” and is not what do I need to acquire in order to live a good life, which often times what we Americans boil down to the summation of the American dream.

In order to answer the question of “how do I live a good life” we are confronted with the paradox that the good life will not be found by seeking it directly but by seeking wisdom.  Which takes us to the next question, “Who is wise and understanding among you?”  And the final question “From what do conflicts and disputes arise?”

So let’s look at the second question.  Who is wise and understanding among you?

What becomes apparent is that James begins to paint in blacks and whites, where we may prefer the grey.  According to James there are two roads ahead of us and we get to choose which one we are going to take and both of them begin with wisdom.

James says that God-given wisdom is apparent in others when they possess certain character traits; which are absent from Webster’s dictionary definition.  They include being gentle or humble, pure, peaceable, willing to yield, full of mercy without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

Prayer:  God I seek your wisdom today, may it bring about humility, peace and mercy in my life that spill over into my community.  Amen.


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