James has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. Mainly because every time I pick it up it convicts me. I recognize my need for God, which is something I need to be reminded of a lot because I get to thinking sometimes that I am doing pretty well on my own.
In James 3:13-18 we hear about two kinds of wisdom. This convicts me every time. Esp. the word humility- that is such an elusive thing in our society- everything is so me-focused- how do you live a life in submission, where you see the talents in others and applaud them, you realistically see your own limitations and accept them, and most of all avoid the antithesis of humility- Pride.
It cuts to the heart of what motivates us. What drives us in the choices we make? How we spend our time and money? Who we spend time with? What do we talk about and think about? When I honestly examine those things, I find myself displeased with what I see.
Here is the passage:
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. 16For 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.
Wow, so much is said in just a few sentences. Just verse 13. How often are we completely honest and aware of our own motivations? Do we recognize when we are acting in complete selfishness with no care for those around us? Our culture is full of envy right now- we are practically dripping with it- envying jobs, lifestyle, money, vacations, houses, cars, you name it. How much time do we spend thinking about these things? What if any true and lasting joy do they bring?
Sometimes I wish that I could shed all these things that seem to entangle my legs and trip me up- it is so hard to keep focused on what is important. So many distractions and enticing things that we are led to believe that we need.
I do believe there is great value in a simple life- where we try to avoid getting into the competition for nicest house, car, most powerful job- and just pursue God- and whatever passion He has given us. Sounds simple- but it is not. I do believe it is a narrow road (Matt. 7:13-14)- and there are so many distractions meant to keep us off course- maybe to keep us our whole life on the sidelines- never seeing the potential that has been in us all along.
I pray that-whatever God’s purpose for your life might be- that you find it- and have the courage and fortitude to stay the course and be faithful to where He has called you- and I pray that I might do the same.