For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.James 3:16-18
The Proverbs tell us so much about the benefits of wisdom. We learn that, for the wise, there will be physical and spiritual blessings commensurate with those who have chosen to fear God (Proverbs 9:10). Here, James tells us another benefit of wisdom: peace, specifically in interpersonal relationships.
It’s helpful to realize that disorder and sin reign where there is jealousy and selfish ambition. When we are diagnosing the problems we see in our relationships, we should be able to draw a direct line to that problem, as it exists. Do you experience chaos in your marriage or in your home? Do you struggle with your coworkers or your friends? Is there a general feeling of disorder in your life? It’s worth checking your heart for selfish ambition and jealousy. These two attributes are self-absorbed. They come from a mind which says either, “What can I get from this situation?” or “What do I deserve in this situation?” I constantly struggle with these desires. It’s very easy to develop a warped sense of justice which causes you to be on the lookout for when you are hurt, taken advantage of, or forgotten by those around you–especially those you love. This doesn’t really correspond with Jesus’ command that we “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-40).
James tells us that wisdom does the opposite. It seeks peace and is gentle. Are you open to reason? Are you looking for ways to vindicate those around you? When you are taken advantage of, do you believe the best, or assume the worst? That will tell you a lot about the amount of wisdom you are applying to this particular moment. And here’s the catch: wisdom asks the same questions: “What can I get from this situation?” or “What do I deserve in this situation?” However, the wise person understands that the best thing to get is glory for God, and experience of his love through obedience. And the wise person understands that all he or she deserves is the wrath their unrighteousness earns. So, wisdom will result in peacefulness towards others. The wise person sees himself for who he really is, and responds to other accordingly.
The “Isolation Introspection” series started as an opportunity for me to encoruage members of our Bible Study with daily reflections from the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan during the 2020 “Stay at Home” mandate in Los Angeles. I’ve moved them here so that they can be shared easily, and perhaps benefit others. I hope you enjoy!