Good morning everyone!
James has been sharing characteristics that describe those who have a heavenly wisdom. Since that wisdom is one that comes from God, it makes sense it would reflect God’s characteristics. James included a description of God’s wisdom in verses 17 and 18 of chapter three.
“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.” (verses 17-18)
We have already taken a look at the first three characteristics: purity, peace- loving, and considerate. We know that we are called to be holy as God is holy. (1 Peter 1:6) That we are called to be peacemakers, (Matthew 5:9) and we should be considerate of others. (Philippians 2:3-4) James continues to build on the description of a heavenly wisdom by sharing the next trait – being submissive.
In our world, being submissive often carries a negative connotation. For many, being submissive is a sign of weakness. However, personal experience reveals that being submissive often requires a great amount of strength. Here is an example: being submissive to political leadership when we might want to respond in rebellion or being submissive to our parents when they have made unpopular decisions. Most of us can probably identify with those two examples.
Scripture teaches that being submissive through godly obedience is a positive response. We told our children many times while they were growing up that in some way childhood was an internship for adulthood. If they could learn to be submissive to mom and dad as a child, it would be easier for them to be submissive to God as an adult.
Scripture teaches appropriate submissiveness. Being submissive to God will give us victory over Satan. James will share this truth in the next chapter: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.” 4:7-8
“Submit to God and be at peace with Him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” Job 22:21
Being submissive to our leaders is also encouraged in scripture. “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Hebrews 3:17
We are also encouraged to submit to each other as bothers and sisters in Christ: “Submit to each other out of reverence to Christ.” While this is a prelude to the relationship that should exist between a husband and wife, it can easily be applied to relationships between followers of Christ. What do godly spouses do? They submit to the care, needs, love, support, and service of each other. In the same fashion that is how we can submit to our fellowship Christians.
James’ next heavenly wisdom characteristic: being merciful.
As brothers and sister in Christ, we should be experts in showing mercy because we received God’s great gift of mercy when we became followers of Christ and we continue to receive God’s mercy daily. “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, for it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5
And Christ himself challenged us to be merciful: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7
One of the most powerful parables Jesus used in teaching drew our attention to the servant who owed his master ten thousand bags of gold. The master decided to settle accounts with his servant. When his servant was unable to pay, the master ordered that the servant be imprisoned until the account could be paid in full. The man begged for mercy, which the master granted.
Then man who had received such great mercy found another who owed him one 100 silver coins. He demanded payment. When payment could not be given, he had his fellow servant thrown into prison.
We know the end of the story. When the master heard about the lack of mercy on the part of one who had received such great mercy, he said, “You wicked servant. I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”
That servant was then handed over to the jailers to be TORTURED until he could pay back his original debt. Notice the merciless servant’s punishment was no longer just imprisonment. Now it included torture. It seems clear that God’s intention for his children is that we become agents of mercy!
So again, how do we measure up when it comes to demonstrating a heavenly wisdom. Are we people who follow a biblical concept of submission? Are we people who have received such an incredible amount of mercy that we are committed to granting mercy to others?
How we treat others will reveal our true nature!