Lesson 22. The Discipline Of Attitudes (James 3:13-18) PART 3

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

The resulting actions of false religion are also identified: disorder and every evil thing. James always sees the connection between inward stance and outward practice. Genuine faith will manifest itself in deeds, and the same principle holds true in the contrasting demonic realm. The devil’s false wisdom will manifest itself in practices of disorder and every evil thing.

17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

In 3:17, James deliberately states a foremost characteristic of the wisdom from above. It is first of all pure and only then the other qualities. His term pure speaks of holiness and provides the immediate contrast to every evil practice. The first and foremost reason for valuing wisdom is that it will lead people to do what is morally right. Today, it is more urgent than ever before that Christians learn James’ passion for purity. Will we do what is right simply because it is the right thing to do?

In 3:17, James lists other attitudes and behaviors of the wisdom from above. Peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere fill out a picture of humility put into practice. The first three of these traits are terms that James uses only here in his letter; they describe people who can yield status, care for others, and are willing to submit and learn from others – all in contrast to the bitterness, envy, and selfish ambition of false spirituality. The remaining traits weave some of James’ earlier instruction into this picture. Full of mercy reminds James’ readers of his urging to be merciful in 2:13. The terms for impartial and sincere are both built upon the root for judge – a vital concept already in the Epistle.

18And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James summarizes in 3:18 (literally): the “fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” This connects peacemaking and righteousness (cf. Jesus in Mat. 5:9,10) and suddenly reveals why the disorder in 3:16 is so abhorrent to James. The disorder’s opposite is not a morally neutral order but a morally sufficient peace. James wants peace for the church because peace is the context in which righteousness can flourish. This is the opposite side of what James said in 1:20, that human anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Again, James writes out of a passion for righteousness.

CONCLUSION

How to Know and Love Jesus!

Sierra is an only child. Her mother had fourteen miscarriages before she was born. Her parents adored her. She adores her parents. Sierra is now in her twenties and still loves to spend as much time as possible with her parents.

She told me that she and her fellow pupils were asked whether they thought their parents loved them more than they loved each other. Most of them replied that they thought that was the case. However, Sierra replied that she thought her parents loved each other far more but that this very bond of love made her feel secure and so loved.

At the heart of the Christian faith is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. To be a Christian is to know and love Christ.

What is this relationship like? The Bible describes it using human language and human analogies. It is a relationship of the closest possible intimacy. It is like that of a parent and child (Luke 1; Romans 8). But Paul goes even further in terms of familiarity: he refers to Christ as our husband and the church as his bride (2 Corinthians 11:2; see also Ephesians 5:22–33).

(2 Cor. 1:2)For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

(Eph. 5:22, 23) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.

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