Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10, 2011 … Living Unselfishly – A Wise Choice

Passage of the Day: James 3: 14a [highlight verse in bold/underline] … 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 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. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

My Journal for Today: This month we began our pursuit of Godly wisdom with a question from James (remember or see above: James 3: 13). In the next few days I’ll be continuing to answer his question, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” So, if you’re following me here, you’re going to need to see the contextual passage following James’ question explained (i.e., James 3: 14 – 18). Today the focus begins to highlight a comparison with Godly wisdom by declaring one of qualities one will NOT see in the Godly wise person … that of “bitter envy.”

In fact, this comparative passage implies that the pursuit of worldly understanding often produces envy, tinged by bitterness and/or jealousy. The translated construct “bitter envy” comes from two Greek terms. The first is “pikros,” which points to one who has a driven attitude, bound up in self-centeredness; and it is paired with the term “eritheia,” where one exhibits a “me versus them” attitude. So, James is saying that the dogged pursuit of worldly understanding often produces people who are selfish, highly-competitive, and uncaring. And is this not the case in the elitist, academic circles of our world? I’ve been there, folks. I was on the faculties of two major universities for over 30 years; and the “publish or perish” mentality pushes academia to pursue worldly knowledge to get their name in print before others … often at any cost.

James is saying that those tendencies will not be found in the one who pursues Godly wisdom. This becomes an exhortation by exclusion from God’s word for the Christian to beware of seeking worldly knowledge with no thought of God’s way so that one can rise above others. Rather, as we saw earlier this month in our discussion of James 3: 13, the pursuit of Godly wisdom will drive the believer to know the mind of God (i.e., His will) in order to serve others, ultimately resulting in “deeds done in humility.”

Hence, we need to ask ourselves, “Is my drive toward understanding and knowledge to get ahead of others or is it to serve them?” If we know that we’re in Christ and it is the latter, then we are likely pursuing Godly wisdom with a Godly attitude.

My Prayer Today: May I know You, Lord, so as to serve You and others. Amen

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