From the September Newsletter
James 3: 13-18 asks, “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. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 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. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
The letter of James presents sets of two. Rich and poor. Faith and deeds. Words of blessings and words of cursing. Wisdom from below and wisdom from above. Each pair relates to its partner in some way. We are called to see the rich and the poor as equal. It is deeds that prove our faith. Words of blessing are greater than words of cursing.
The wisdom from above and the wisdom from below are not equal. They originate from separate sources. The wisdom from below is the wisdom of humanity. The wisdom from above is the wisdom of God. The wisdom from below finds reason to puff up the self. It reduces those who disagree with us to the wicked who can be ignored. The wisdom from above is cloaked in humility
How do we receive this wisdom from above? How can the wisdom of God be a part of our narrative? James 1:5 says this, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Simply, we receive the wisdom of God from God. Wisdom is given to us if we ask. God gives generously when we ask. God gives without finding fault.
The goal of human wisdom is self-gain. The goal of the wisdom of God is peace. The peace of God comes through Jesus Christ. In his letter to the church at Corinth Paul wrote this about the wisdom that comes from above:
1 Corinthians 1: 25-31 reminds us, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
This November, everyone reading this will make a choice. Either you will choose to vote or you will make the choice to not vote. This November there will be individuals and ideas that are put in power, and there will be individuals and ideas that are removed from power. To borrow Pastor JD’s phrase, “it matters who you line up behind.” It matters who you choose to speak for you. The decisions you make should absolutely be grounded on how you understand the Scriptures. Your choices should be founded upon your understanding of the wisdom of God. We serve a God of mercy and justice, and we our voting should reflect that.
However we must also remember that in November there will still only be ONE church. ONE body, ONE Spirit, and ONE Lord of all. To those who follow Jesus we are called to reject favoritism, to show our faith through our deeds, to speak words of blessing, and to seek the wisdom of God.
We come to Jesus for this wisdom. We come to Jesus for redemption. We come to Jesus so that we may be peacemakers who sow in peace and reap in righteousness.
Pastor Jesse Letourneau
Salem UCC, Westphalia, IN
(All Scriptures NIV taken from blueletterbible.org)