Friday July 3rd, 2015
Wisdom, Peace, and Righteousness
Note from Jesus
When James wrote about wisdom and peace, he used terms whose meanings were rooted in what you call the Old Testament — The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. To fully appreciate what James taught in today's verses, you must understand what peace and wisdom meant when he used them.
For James, peace was much more than an absence of conflict. Peace was living in true shalom — the state of blessing and wholesomeness in life that comes when people live in complete harmony with the Father's will. For James, righteousness would flourish and compassion would be displayed as the joy of right living produced the place and the people where the Father's presence would love to dwell. True shalom for them, and for you, is the blessing of living Our life in your world. It is experiencing the blessedness of the Father's presence and rule over every area of life.
For James, wisdom was not some theoretical attainment of mental excellence, but a life full of all the goodness and true shalom that come from the Father's grace. This life flowed out of a person's commitment to living the Father's values in his or her world. James emphasized that this wisdom would be shown by a disciple's example of good living. This kind of wisdom was not just the subject of some philosophical speculation. Instead, this true wisdom was about life tuned to Our righteous character and gracious compassion. Wisdom would mean living in reverential respect for Us and living in harmony with your neighbor. This reverential respect for Us would then be the beginning of all wisdom:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;What I taught as the two greatest commands captures both elements of true wisdom — living in reverential respect for the Father and loving your neighbor:
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
(Psalm 111:10 ESV)
And again the crowd was amazed. They were astonished at His [Jesus'] teaching.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, a group of Pharisees met to consider new questions that might trip up Jesus. A legal expert thought of one that would certainly stump Him.
Pharisees:Teacher, of all the laws, which commandment is the greatest?Jesus (quoting Scripture):"Love the Eternal One your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is nearly as important, "Love your neighbor as yourself." The rest of the law, and all the teachings of the prophets, are but variations on these themes.(Matthew 22:33-40)
Wisdom springs from living these two principles. However, when jealousy and selfish ambition are found in a group or culture, true wisdom and peace go out the window. Chaos and evil flourish as each person competes for his or her own interest at the expense of others. Loving God is soon forgotten in the love of power, the pursuit of prestige, and the jockeying for position. Love of neighbor is ignored in the rush to love oneself and forget about others.
This kind of selfish wisdom has given the world the mess in which it finds itself. This selfish wisdom is one way the evil one captures the hearts of people and enslaves them in what is not wise. This kind of selfish wisdom never brings true shalom. So rather than focusing on what you can get for yourself, center your focus on how to live the character and compassion that you see in Me. Also notice the characteristics that James said are from the devil and should not be found among My disciples:
- Other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy
Verses to Live
Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state. The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.