In the Gentleness of Wisdom (James 3)

gentle waterRighteous indignation. You ever get that feeling that you are right, and that something you see is wrong? That, in fact, you are SO right and it is SO wrong it is your moral obligation and duty to stand up and make a scene about it? Or at least throw a few passive-aggressive thrusts of disapproval toward the offender? You know, just to make sure they are aware they are off track.

It’s everywhere – we get in debates with each other about it, write blogs about it, post awesome little jabs on social media about it. Because, in our understanding, we’re very clearly morally and maybe even scripturally right.

When Jesus was arrested, one of his best friends pulled out a sword and started swinging. In a fit of righteous indignation, Peter cut off another man’s ear. In the midst of walking into the next chapter of His mission, Jesus pressed pause to heal what had been severed by the hand of one trying to protect Him the wrong way.

From one perspective, it seems almost noble of Peter to stand and defend his friend and a ministry he believed wasn’t finished and a truth he knew to be right. Those are all good things to feel passionately about. The problem is that his response was based on his own circumstantial understanding, his own wisdom. His methodology damaged the very thing that would allow the offender to hear the message he (and the one he was defending) wanted to convey. In fact, James the half-brother of Jesus would later call wisdom which twists the truth to fit your own perspective arrogant, earthly, natural, and demonic (James 3:14-15).

Oh man, I can relate to Peter. Way too often I find righteous indignation flaring up in my heart and, out of my own wisdom and understanding and desire to declare the truth I see, resort to an abrasive and ear-cutting approach. I walk around with a mouth like a sword that’s a little too quickly unsheathed. Here’s what I am learning – Heavenly wisdom does not require or justify beating anyone over the head with anything to win an argument, or killing a person or groups of people (physically OR verbally) to protect or defend the truth.

If the end result is further damage, we are tapping into the wrong wisdom.

There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18

I’ve been stepping into awareness of this truth for a while now. When I started seeing the potential to harm others (especially unwittingly) with my words, I got better at holding my tongue long enough to process where I’m speaking from.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Proverbs 18:21

There are times I think I’m doing great by keeping my silence..but I’ve come to realize there is a much deeper issue at play. If my heart is producing judgment, separation, and death, I am not seeing through the right perspective.

Just like Peter, I don’t see the whole picture. But Jesus does, and He came saying this:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
John 10:10

His desire is not that we simply avoid speaking death over each other, but that we actively speak Life into each other. This is not completely resolved for me – I still catch myself peeking at life through the lens of bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, and arrogance (James 3:14) – so I’m thankful He has shown this to me today. I can be more vigilant about guarding my heart.

…For his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
~Jesus, Luke 6:45

This is what heavenly wisdom looks like. It requires diligence, intentionality, patience, selflessness, and lots and lots of hard work … but it’s definitely going to be worth it.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
James 3:17-18 (MSG version)

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shirley
    Aug 21, 2016 @ 19:22:35

    Hard lessons to learn. We can all grow daily and live a life pleasing to our Lord. Thank you for sharing what HE is teaching you.


  2. Anonymous
    Aug 21, 2016 @ 20:18:33

    Great post, Amy. You’re right on with this one … It’s all about the heart. Love you and love your transparency. As always you’re pointing people in the right direction. ❤️


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