LOVING WORDS IN COMMUNITY
Read: James 3:7-18
” 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (NIV James 3:7-18)
Study: James, Jesus’ brother, was the most prominent Christian leader in first-century Jerusalem (see Acts 15:13-21). His letter carried on many aspects of the Hebrew wisdom tradition. In his day, some Hebrew zealots claimed that “wisdom” meant violence and hatred against Rome. James described instead a godly wisdom that was “pure … peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine.” Verse 9 described a painful reality that has continued right to today. How can the kinds of inner issues listed in verses 14 and 16 help to trigger angry, cursing speech toward others? What people in your life have instead modeled “wisdom from above”? What impact did they have on your heart and the way you live?
Prayer: Lord, give me the beautiful qualities James calls “wisdom from above.” Give me the courage to ask for help in areas where I habitually “get it wrong.” Grow a peaceful heart in me. Amen.