James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
This letter was written in AD49 (just before the Council of Jerusalem described in Acts 15) to Jewish Christians living in Gentile communities. It was written to challenge the hypocrisy of those who thought that they were spiritually superior – who in fact displayed un-Christian behavior.
The writer of this letter invited the “wise and understanding” to demonstrate this through “works…done with gentleness”. Those who truly have “wisdom from above” show their faith in being “peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits”. This is an invitation to abandon the hypocrisy born of spiritual arrogance, and to instead become peacemakers.
The challenge of our era is for Jesus-followers to abandon the notion that this makes us spiritually superior, and instead to cultivate a gentle spirit of service to our community.
Let me love and not be requited.
Let me serve and not be rewarded.
Let me labor and not be remembered.
Let me suffer and not be regarded.
I know not how far the future lies ahead.
On this path of no retreating I am led.
So, Lord, let me now learn from Your perfect pattern,
Suff’ring wrong, no resentment in return.
Translated from Watchman Nee 1903-1972
47 Wise Stewards
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 287.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.