“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.” (James 3:13) This is the standard we should strive for, our good behavior and deeds, is our “evidence of spiritual wisdom” in our relationships.
Now the contrast. “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart…” it is evident by your words and actions you are lacking in spiritual wisdom. John Gill says, “… an envious, quarrelsome, and contentious spirit … it is such wisdom as does not come from above, from heaven, from the Father of lights …” Heavenly wisdom (actions) in relationships is not brash or arrogant, but rather humble, meek. Our natural human instinct, especially when we’ve been wounded, is to strike back. “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. (v 15-16)
Too often we understate the importance of how we treat others and especially overlook the ripple effect that it may have on those indirectly involved in the conflict. We gossip or backbite to hurt, but neglect to think about the many others that may be impacted. Jesus states in Matthew 22:37-40 …’YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Ill treatment of our neighbors thru lies, deceit, gossip, manipulation, etc. is evil, even demonic. When selfish emotions drive us or even overtake us, base ugly instincts of an evil heart may surface. The damage can be devastating.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (v 17-18) We don’t have these attributes by nature, quite the opposite, they are from above.
Next week: “Warning Against Worldliness“