You know when someone moves in from a different city, across the country, or a completely different country and has a hard time adjusting to a new way of doing things? A jewish believer accepting Christ was a major shift in their way of life. Teaching that to complete strangers who didn’t know anything about following Jesus? Ohhh yeah girl….that’s the story of James. This is the story of the brother of Jesus teaching Gentiles who believed in salvation through Christ’s sacrifice how to live.
The majority of James chapter 3 is on taming the tongue. You can read that post here. I decided to pull out this last little bit because I didn’t want the last few verses overshadowed by another topic. They’re so meaningful! They need to stand out on their own. So while we’re only going over 5 verses here, there’s still a lot to soak in and allow God to use in your heart and life. If you want to start at the beginning of James study and follow through the entire book in order, feel free to start here with James 1, James 2, and then of course the first part of James 3.
First, let’s look at the context, especially if you haven’t read my other posts on James. I want you to always consider context. One of the enemy’s favorite tricks is to take scripture out of context, twist the words of God, and make us doubt. It’s exactly what he did to Eve. One of the best tactics for us to shut down these lies and devious tricks from Satan is to know scripture in context.
This letter from the younger brother of Jesus is to Jewish believers that are living among Gentiles, teaching them about accepting and living for Jesus. He’s going over general characteristics of a Christian, giving practical advice on living authentically for Jesus, and exposing some of the false teachings that were spreading through the early church, like the belief that the law had no importance or influence on the life of a Christian since God gave grace. That’s known as antinomianism.
Wisdom From Above
13Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Here is where I break down the color categories of each verse. Most verses can fit into multiple categories so if you absorb it differently than I do that’s ok! Highlight it that color! There’s no concrete right answer. Here’s how I deciphered them.
- Verse 13= wisdom/instruction
- Verse 14= sin
- Verse 15= evil
- Verse 16= sin
- Verse 17= wisdom, peace, mercy
- Verse 18= peace
Remember the context? James addresses antinomianism (being against the law) in this passage by encouraging believers to perform good works. James is helping Jewish believers teach new Gentile church members how to practically live as Christ followers. Much of the book of James covers works and obedience. He’s teaching wisdom. We should still prioritize obedience and works while we operate under the freedom from sin because of the sacrifice of Christ. As Christians we are saved by God’s free gift through faith, not by keeping the law. But as Christians we are still required to obey Christ. The law shows us how flawed and sinful we are. The sacrifice of Christ shows us how loved we are. The love in our hearts urges us to give Christ good works.
I love the saying “God is for God”. His purpose is that His name be glorified. This always helps me remind myself that I am not the point. It’s so freeing when I take my perspective off my little corner of the world and think about how large scale God’s plan is. It also battles the selfish ambition and bitter jealousy that we’re talking about in verse 14.
Now let’s talk about the verse that covers meekness. The definition means submissiveness. Synonyms in the English language are timidness, humility, and mildness. It’s a word I struggle with mentally. I picture the timid little mousey woman and feel guilty that I am not her. But there’s the enemy twisting the word of God to make me feel worthless! No! Rather than focus on these synonyms I’ll go back to the actual definition and daily submit my heart to the God of creation.
The end of James chapter 3 is absolutely beautiful to me. Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable. Then gentle. Think of someone that exhibits those three qualities. You love them, don’t you? Who wouldn’t?!
Wisdom from above is being open to reason. I try to practice this in life by reminding myself that I’m never 100% right and never 100% wrong about anything. Let’s always be open to reason. James tells us wisdom from God helps us be full of mercy and good fruits. Let’s give others mercy. Other drivers, coworkers, family members, complete strangers in the checkout line. After all, He had mercy on us, right?
And lastly, wisdom from above is impartial and sincere. Let’s be unbiased and treat people equally. James is encouraging us to live sincerely, with our outward actions showing what’s in our heart.
It makes me smile. It makes my heart swell with gratefulness! God is so, so good to us! He gives us His holy word and the Holy Spirit to guide us through life on this broken earth until we can stand in His presence, worshipping His greatness forever! It invokes unfathomable joy.
Dear friend, I hope you enjoyed these five short verses as much as I did. Have a great day & be happy that God loves you! XOXO,
- A Quick Bible Study Through James 2; Teaching About Favoritism & An Active Faith
- Bible Teaching From James 1; Building Endurance, Wisdom, and Following the Word
- T.H.I.N.K. Think About Your Words; Wisdom on Taming the Tongue From James 3
- James 4; A Warning Against Worldliness & Boasting from the brother of Jesus. A Lesson in Examining Your Heart.
- James 5; A Warning to the Rich and Questions to Ask Yourself