Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Faith and Wisdom

In James 3:13-18, an important question is asked: Who is wise and understanding among you? Continuing with the theme of the book, James answers that it is not the person who claims to be wise that is wise! Rather, it is the one whose life is marked by actions motivated by humble service to Jesus Christ. Our culture - including the evangelical subculture - is filled with fact, blogs like this contribute to it. Words that often scream for attention and demand to be heard. Yet, there is no wisdom in simply claiming to be wise. Again, James says that godly wisdom is demonstrated in actions that are rooted in humility.

Churches are a microcosm of this very human experience of the contrast between godly wisdom and the lack of wisdom. Some commentators are convinced that James was seeking to address folks within the congregation who were seeking leadership authority, but did not have the godly wisdom needed for such leadership. For the message on Sunday, I sought to point out that modern church disagreements often result from a lack of godly wisdom. The modern church is not the first church to experience such things. The first century church was filled with difficulties and disagreements. I think of the debate over salvation that resulted in the Jerusalem council of Acts 15; I think of the church in Corinth, that was so immature and fractured Paul wrote them pleading with them to mature in the faith; I think of Euodia and Syntche in Phil 4, with whom Paul pleads for agreement.

Based on James 3:13-18, we can observe that those functioning without godly wisdom are driven by envy and selfish ambition. And, the result is disorder (anarchy) and "every evil practice." In short, when we are driven by our own selfish concerns, we reject the leaders God has placed over us and become an authority unto ourselves.

Godly wisdom, however, is from God (it is pure) and leads to peace. It is gentle and open to reason; that is, it is willing to listen and be persuaded. It is full of mercy and fruitful; that is it acts mercifully on behalf of others and bears fruit for the Kingdom. It is impartial and sincere; that is it does not function with known biases and is genuine and authentic.
At the end of the day, godly wisdom is known by its humility in action. As I said Sunday, "it may be hard to describe, but you know it when you see it!"

What kind of people have you known who exhibited Godly wisdom? What kind of impact did they have on your life?

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