Notice James claims that the wisdom that comes from God is – yes, “chiefly” pure, but it is also peaceful and uncensorious. Someone who is censorious is highly fault-finding, super critical and apt to accuse the other. James says this is not a part of the wisdom of God. Instead the wise Christian is “courteous” and “always ready to be convinced!” In other words, willing to listen to the opposing arguments! including those which are blasphemous. Wisdom is not finger-pointing and back-biting (or stabbing). “Peace is the seed-ground of holiness.” Read that again! “Peace is the seed-ground of holiness.” Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see the kingdom of God.”
Whereas the wisdom which does come from above is marked chiefly indeed by its purity, but also by its peacefulness; it is courteous and ready to be convinced, always taking the better part; it carries mercy with it, and a harvest of all that is good; it is uncensorious, and without affectation. Peace is the seed-ground of holiness, and those who make peace will win its harvest. James 3:17-18KNOX
Look at the following translations of the same verse written by James. In several versions, we humble ourselves before or in the sight of the Lord while in several other versions, we find ourselves humbled (or meeked) by an outside force, perhaps by God Himself or by other human beings. At any rate, whether we cast ourselves down or are cast down by others, as we allow ourselves to remain humble, the Lord will exalt or lift us.
The haughty spirit – the proud – this is the one the Lord must discipline. Jesus’ harshest words are for those who hold themselves in high esteem. The Lord lifts the ones who feel the most unworthy and often those we view as the least in the kingdom of God.
Be ye meeked in the sight of the Lord, and he shall enhance you.
humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10KNOX
Cast down yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10GNV
Be humbled in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10DRA
Patience, steadfastness, determination – James says “patience has a perfect work.” With patience, you may become “perfect and whole, and fail in nothing.” And, if you are not wise enough to be patient, you need only ask God for His wisdom; but when you ask, ask in faith, not doubting. Don’t be like a wave on the sea, moved about at the whim of the moon and the wind.
“patience hath a perfect work, that ye be perfect and whole, and fail in nothing. [soothly patience hath a perfect work, that ye be perfect and whole, in nothing failing.] 5 And if any of you needeth wisdom, ask he of God, which giveth to all men largely [that giveth to all men largely], and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him. 6 But ask he in faith, and doubt nothing [nothing doubting]; for he that doubteth, is like to a wave of the sea, which is moved and borne about of the wind [the which of wind is moved and borne about].”
The great judge, Solomon speaks of fools as if they are on every street corner; and they are. We rush about, silly for pleasures, intrigued by this, then by that. We buy things to fill our voids. We ask our gods for more things when we tire of old things or exhaust the resources God gives.
Solomon cries out to his own son to flee folly and earnestly seek wisdom. Patience leads to a perfect work.
“The Lord saith these things, The Lord is name of him that shall do, and form, and make ready that thing; (The Lord saith these things, he who made, and formed, and established the earth, yea, the Lord is his name;) Cry thou to me, and I shall hear thee, and I shall tell to thee great things, and steadfast (and I shall tell thee great and steadfast things), which thou knowest not.”
James tells us if we lack wisdom we should ask God who gives generously the knowledge and the understanding, i.e. the wisdom that we need for any situation. After all, God is the One “who made, and formed, and established the earth.” Being the Creator, God knows all. Because He knows all, He is all wise. Because He is all wise, who else should we ask for the wisdom we need? And why should we doubt His gift? He promises to “hear [us], and […] tell to [us] great things, and steadfast, which [we] knowest not.” The caveat, per James, is we must not doubt God’s promise. Our doubt gets in God’s way, like a roadblock. Yet, we have another option! We can pray, “Lord, help our unbelief.” Always, God makes a way for us. Always.
James calls us to be humble, modest, meager, self-effacing, submissive, despirited, or broken willed “in the sight of the Lord.” He writes:
“Be ye meeked in the sight of the Lord, and he shall enhance you.”
If you’ve ever had the privilege of seeing monks in prayer while prostate on the floor before the Host, then you understand “meeked” as used by James in his letter to Jewish Christians living among Gentiles outside Palestine. Trappist monks, in particular, live meager, modest, humble lives of hospitality and silence. The more submissive, the more self-effacing, the more “broken-willed” and “despirited” a monk appears “in the sight of the Lord,” the more God appears to enhance the man.
You may notice this enhancement in the eyes or in the easy smile. But, you will become aware of God’s handiwork.
James may as well be a carnival barker for as many times as a person seriously asks God for wisdom. I’m being a bit harsh here, I know. But, my impression of what we ask God to give us is not for Him to give us wisdom. The requests are more akin to: success, good health, power, wealth, friends, and – ah yes – souls. The last request, of course, requires wisdom from God and is the most noble of the six desires. How many times, however, do we ask for the salvation of a soul without also asking God for the required wisdom?
“And if any of you needeth wisdom, ask he of God, which giveth to all men largely [that giveth to all men largely], and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him.”
Wisdom is “accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : knowledge. Wisdom is the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight. Wisdom is good sense : judgment. Wisdom is generally accepted belief. Wisdom is a wise attitude, belief, or course of action. Finally, wisdom is the teachings of the ancient wise men” — think Proverbs referred to as the Books of Wisdom.
What we need from God is knowledge, insight, and judgment. What we ask for is power and prosperity.
God “upbraideth not.” He freely gives His wisdom; if only we seek it.
James says, “guess you all joy” — imagine joy — deem it joy — decide it is joy — when you “fall into diverse temptations.” What? Read it yourself:
“My brethren, deem ye all joy [guess ye all joy], when ye fall into diverse temptations, witting, that the proving of your faith worketh patience.”
Consider that temptations prove your faith; and faith works out your patience. After all, with trials and temptations surrounding you, you must remain patient while waiting for your better country. As you anticipate finding your place in God’s house, remember Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost [you who] come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for [you].” (Hebrews 7:25, KJV)
With your eternal hope firmly in mind, facing temptations as if they are moments of joy isn’t quite as absurd as it might sound. These temptations, especially when overcome, lead you to a state of patience.
“Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4, KJV)
“Lacking nothing”, “perfect and entire” — what a description of the Christian life. Yet, James acknowledges the Christian has trials, temptations, sufferings in this world. Rather than bemoan their presence, the Christian is called to deem — guess — decide — these are joys.
God the Holy Spirit says,“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Jesus says, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” to be consumed with boasting — or worry — over tomorrow.
Jesus tells a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12: 16-21)
Don’t say ‘tomorrow I’m going to do this or go there.’ Rather, say ‘if it is the will of God, I’m going to do this or that, go here or there.’ “The tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.” (James 3:5) God the Holy Spirit says this should not be. Our tongues should not be wagging boastful plans for tomorrow.
Rather, we ought to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to [us].” (Matthew 6:33)
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”
“We all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell… No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.” (James 3:2-10)
“Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged.” (James 5:9) “Do not boast and be false to the truth.” (James 3:14) “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:15-16)
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:26-27)
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.” (James 2:8)
What is the trial Christians are to endure? What is the test through which we are to stand? The trial and the test are one in the same — life. Life is the trial we are to endure. The test we must pass is living. No one who is born into this earthly existence does not suffer. The sufferings Christians endure are those which all human beings share. We may experience a special “thorn in the flesh” to keep us humble as did Paul. We may be attacked for our faith, but many other peoples are attacked for what they believe.
Life is the common trial, the universal test. Christians are “those who love God.” Because we love God, we are promised “the crown of life” by God Himself who gave His Son for us. “And this is [God’s] command: to believe in the Name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commands us.” (1 John 3:23) We are to know that “the One who is in [us] is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Because of this truth — that God has overcome the world — we are able to withstand the natural sufferings which are part and parcel of life on this planet.
“And now, dear friends, continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming.” (1 John 2:28) We will be able to show we stood the test; we endured life. Then we will receive the crown prepared for us in advance.