I know that I need to control my tongue. Setting out for this week of James, I knew it was a weakness and I figured that these first set of verses about taming our tongue would be where I concentrated. But for some reason the second half of this chapter about wisdom has grabbed my time:
Who is a wise man endued with knowledge among you? Let him demonstrate it by his manner of life, by his works, with the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying or strife in your hearts, that’s not wise, don’t glory in it, and lie not against the truth. [That is a lie against the truth, the bitterness and striving and envyness within your heart.] For this kind of wisdom descends not from above. It’s not Godly wisdom, it’s earthly, it’s sensual, it’s devilish. For where envying and strife is there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then it is peaceable, it is gentle, it is easy to be intreated, it is full of mercy and good fruit, it’s without partiality, and without hypocrisy (Jam 3:13-17).
And this commentary for some reason hit home with me:
Now, what marks your life? What kind of wisdom comes forth from you? He says that you should show forth the wisdom by your manner of living. Demonstrate the wisdom. In reality our manner of life does demonstrate the source of our wisdom. And if I am constantly in strife, constantly in turmoil, constantly stirred up, constantly, you know, bad mouthing this person, that person, this thing, that thing, then that wisdom that I have is not of God. For the wisdom that comes from God has such marvelous characteristics, it’s pure, it’s peaceable it’s gentle, easily intreated.
The thing about wisdom is you try to measure how much you have by how much you know and what Scriptures you understand and what great advice you tell people. But wisdom is about DOING. Not just knowing. Not just telling. If you are wise, the choices you make will be wise. Like the commentary says, wisdom is measured by the manner of living.
And I can not let this second idea go: I see so many people, particularly on social media, that are always talking about this person and that person and this thing and that thing and it’s never uplifting. And they think they are being so wise because they are smarter and have everyone’s life figured it out but really these verses are saying that is not wisdom at all. And it’s easy to point fingers and say they need to take a look at themselves but then I’m convicted to look at my own words. Is what I’m saying, in writing or in person, really wisdom or am I just convinced I am right? It’s so ironic that this study on wisdom comes back to taming my tongue.
So I’m challenging myself and would challenge you to step back, go look at our last 10 Facebook statuses, tweets, blog posts, blog posts comments (!) or think about our last 5 conversations. Is there envy? Strife? Confusion? Bad-mouthing? Truly wise people will be peaceful, considerate, humble and sincere. If we are not characterized by these, we can turn back to James 1:5 (thank you, Marla) “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” And in the meantime?
Read other posts on James over at Marla Taviano’s.