“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.” James 3:17
In school, there was a girl who I considered my competition. She hung around with people who had previously been my friends, seemed to take up every activity I was into (and excelled!), and shared my weaknesses. She seemed even to be talented at receiving support from professors and my old friends.
I was extremely envious.
We were regularly cold and critical with each another, and neither one of us saw the opportunity for growth and friendship in our similarities.
One day, I decided it was time to confront my “rival,” and I did so without great finesse or sensitivity. I wrote an email to point out her sins against me, and convinced myself I was wisely calling a peer to holiness. The moment I hit send, I knew I had made a mistake. That letter had not been peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, fruitful, or impartial — although, I think it was definitely sincere.
Sometimes we convince ourselves that wisdom is out of reach for anyone besides Solomon or for anyone under 100. But we can be guilty of making it seem harder on purpose; if we act as if wisdom is only accessible to the people we put on pedestals, we’re not really to blame when we act foolishly or rashly. How were we supposed to know?
We pray for wisdom as if it is hard to find or understand, but in James, we’re given some beautiful instructions and insights about this spiritual gift. It’s good news — we can exercise wisdom. We can pray to receive it, of course, but through the help of the Holy Spirit informing our consciences, we can also recognize it and actively choose it.
Lord, help me to know that intimacy with You is the beginning of wisdom. Help me to love peace, to be considerate, submissive, merciful, fruit-bearing, impartial, and sincere in my kindness. Give me the courage to be wise, Lord, so that I can represent You well here on earth and know more deeply what it means to love like You do. Amen.
This week as you deal with conflict, choose wisdom. Memorize James 3:17 and bring it to mind when you are tempted to act or speak rashly.