Passage of the Day: James 3: 17a [highlighted verse in bold/underlined] … 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: The pursuit of Godly wisdom (i.e., finding the mind/will of God) is a pursuit of purity. So, what is James referring to when he writes that Godly wisdom is first of all “pure?”
Well, the Greek word for “pure” in this verse is the word “men” (pronounced “may’-een”); and, according to John MacArthur in his Strength for Today entry on this date, it refers to “… spiritual integrity and/or moral sincerity.” Jesus Christ was, of course, our perfect example, as He is with all such characteristics to which we ascribe as Christians. Following Jesus’ life, we see a total absence of the jealousy and/or selfish ambition referred to in James 3: 16, which characterizes the wisdom and/or understanding pursued by or coming from the world or the flesh.
As MacArthur puts it, “… the true believer (in Christ) will [as he matures in the faith] have pure desires;” … and I would add that if a Christian falls into choices and/or behaviors characterized as “impure,” he/she will be immediately convicted by that thought or action as Paul spoke of in Romans 7: 15 – 21. And that is God’s Spirit calling the Christian to purity and then onward to know God and His way more deeply … with purity becoming more and more a part of that Christian’s sanctified life.
In Old Testament prophesy (see Ezekiel 11: 19), God said to His people that He would give them a new heart, … a totally pure and undefiled love for God. Now, though there may be debate over the context of the passage from which Ezek. 11: 19 comes (i.e., Ezekiel 11: 16 – 25), I believe this was a reference to the purity of heart found in the believer rewarded in Heaven from the Great White Throne Judgment. In other words, when all of God’s people are taken to God’s ultimate “promised land” in the New Heaven, we will have totally pure hearts; and our pursuits will be totally focused on worship of the Lamb of God. That is the ultimate completion and perfection referred to by Paul in Phil. 1: 6; and it is the ultimate outcome of sanctification. However, until that prophesy becomes reality in glory, it must be the goal of every believer, as we read in today’s verse, to pursue the mind of God with as much spiritual energy and purity of heart as we can muster.
Unfortunately right now, in this life, that heart for Godly wisdom, is, as MacArthur puts it, is “…incarcerated in our old flesh,” which is going to produce continual warfare (see Romans 7: 22 – 23). But God has blessed the born-again believer with a newly indwelt heart, one which seeks after purity (see Matt. 5: 8); and one which is stronger than that of the flesh or the enemy (see 1st John 4: 4). And one day in glory, after pursuing God through the rigors of sanctification, our hearts will be as Christ’s (meditate on 1st John 3: 2). And to that end, even now in our imperfection, we must pursue God’s mind for His glory.
My Prayer Today: Help me to find Your heart, O Lord, and to be pure as I seek to know You and become more like You. Amen