The hook of this book is that our loyalty in life, if we want to live a beautiful life
If we want to live a life that honors the God who made us
If we want to honor those around us who bear God’s image
If we want that…our loyalty must be laser focused on Jesus Christ.
James is telling us that if we have been given the wisdom that comes from God, our lives will be marked by beauty and not disorder
gentleness and not brashness.
If we’re ever going to get a handle on our tongues and thoughts
If we’re ever going to get our hearts changed
We have to seek wisdom from God alone
And that wisdom is going to produce in us beauty and gentleness.
If instead we seek wisdom from sources other than God
Whether it’s our own gumption or some growing trend in the world at large
We will become people for whom selfish ambition rules
and selfish ambition produces disorder in our own lives and the lives of others
Selfish ambition leaves the needy out in the cold without a meal to eat
Selfish ambition causes us to focus more on defending our own point of view, rather than loving someone else enough to live peacefully with him or her.
Selfish ambition leaves you empty
But the spirit of gentleness that comes from wisdom makes you beautiful. (Keller)
It makes life beautiful.
It makes life worth the living.
We’ve got to let our hearts be affected by the one who perfectly embodies what James is talking about here.
And that’s the Savior Jesus Christ.
The one who shunned selfish ambition in order to save our lives.
Christ could have looked at the cross and said, “I’m sorry, but this is my blood and I intend to keep it in my veins where it belongs.” Instead, he became absolutely humble and shed his blood so that we could be forgiven of all our shortcomings…that’s why we raise the cup at communion. Because Christ in meekness didn’t keep his blood in his veins.
Christ could have seen the plight of the world from his high place in heaven and said, I’m sorry, but those people are dastardly by their own doing. I won’t sacrifice my high position…I’m not going to accept punishment for something I didn’t do. But Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus didn’t defend himself. Instead, he laid down his position and became humble so we could live.
If we want the kind of wisdom James is talking about
We have to look at the things God does to make us free and safe
And allow ourselves to get wrapped up in the beautiful sacrifice that God made for us.
If we want true wisdom
If we want to get a handle on the fact that we must revere the image of God in people
Rather than deride people who bear God’s image
We have to open ourselves up to the fact that Jesus does for us what no one else can
We have to breathe in God’s Holy Spirit and accept the peace that God gives us in the Holy Spirit.
That means we aren’t preoccupied with the downfalls of others
It means that we are preoccupied with Christ and bringing out the beauty Christ makes possible.
It means that instead of metaphorically sowing seeds of envy and selfish ambition…we sow seeds of peace and gentleness.
Selfish ambition grows in the garden of envy. Of bitter jealousy. And the produce of that garden destroys the goodness in other people’s lives.
If we sow peace in the garden…and we tend to that garden, making the environment one where the garden produces gentleness and kindness…the produce will help others thrive. It won’t destroy others, it will enliven them.
But we can’t do this without the aid of the Holy Spirit.
It’s not about our own gumption to be peaceful
It’s about allowing God to take hold of our hearts and being humble in God’s presence to realize
That just as Christ set aside all selfish ambition to make us alive
We are free to do the same…so that we can honor God’s image in those around us.
It’s going to make being right all the time way less important
Because the peace of a Community whose loyalty is to God
Is so much more rewarding and life giving than an isolated existence where everyone but you is somehow less worthy of a good life.
Basically, what we need to wrap our minds and hearts around
Is that we must take our cues from Christ himself.
Are we tempted to deride someone?
Think of how Christ could have done the exact same when faced with the task of saving us.
But he didn’t. He didn’t say, I’ll save them I guess…but they are so completely lousy.
Jesus was meek
Jesus didn’t give credence to the stuff in the atmosphere that makes us deride others
He said, the only way that the wrong can be reconciled is if I show my love…unconditionally and immediately.
We take our cues from Jesus
We seek God’s wisdom alone
and we allow God to mold us into people who are more concerned with peace in our relationships than anything else.
Even if it means we stop proving we are right all the time.
The beginning of wisdom is to be absolutely awestruck by our God who stopped at nothing to make us right with God. The beginning of wisdom is to realize that it is only in this God…the creator and sustainer of our life…it is only in this God where we will hear the only inviation that matters.
The invitation from a wonderful savior who says to you and to me