whytheology

For the Intersection of the Everyday and the Sacred

James 3:13-16 (Lent Readings)

Text

KJV Below (Link to NIV)

13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

Comment

It seems there are two kinds of wisdom. One that is concerned primarily with the self, and one that is concerned primarily with others. James is really highlighting the distinction between the Greek concept of wisdom, which often set up others as more or less wise than different persons (i.e. Socrates is more wise than Euthyphro), and the Hebrew concept of wisdom, as seen in the Proverbs. Hebrew wisdom is more action oriented, it is ethically based. The wise man is one who lives well. Note it does not mean the wise man has an easy life, but rather the wise man excels at living because he lives in the best way possible. James notes that this kind of wisdom, which can only come from heaven and which begins with the fear of the LORD, is first and foremost humble and not self-seeking. Contrast that with the popular concept of wisdom (even today) that seeks to elevate one person’s intelligence above another. The latter demonstrates itself through being better, and comparatively making others worse, the former (divine wisdom), by bringing everyone up together. Which would you rather exhibit?

Question

Have you ever tried to make yourself look better by making others look worse? Have you ever been around someone who sought to downplay her or his own actions to elevate everyone else? Which person is better to be around?

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