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
What does it mean to “share the divine nature?” How is that possible? The author of Hebrews writes of Jesus calling us brothers. Paul writes of us becoming sons of God – and if sons, then heirs of all God possesses, including the divine nature. (No wonder Jesus warns against spiritual pride! No wonder Paul tells us not to be “puffed up!”)
Through him God has bestowed on us high and treasured promises; you are to share the divine nature, with the world’s corruption, the world’s passions, left behind.
The part that throws us is the truth that somehow – while we remain locked in these shells we call bodies – we are to leave behind “the world’s corruption, the world’s passions.” Just as having the divine nature seems wild to our imaginations, so does leaving behind “the world’s passions.”
For what is the world passionate? Money? Power? Fame? Sex?
Hard to deny that to some extent those are normal passions –
Maybe it’s really the world’s corruption of those normal desires that we are to leave behind. After all, everyone wants to have enough money on which to live; most people want power over their own lives; many desire to be recognized for their good efforts; and everyone needs some form of sexual fulfillment.
Each of these normal desires has been and is being corrupted by the world.
Peter writes we leave this corruption behind us when “through Him” – that is, through Jesus Christ – we become partakers of the divine nature. We are radically changed from the inside out, not from the outside in. No amount of soap and water is going to cleanse us from the world’s corruption. No amount of self-flagellation will accomplish this cleansing either. Rather, the indwelling Holy Spirit – God Himself – through His great promises will bring us out of the world and into His Kingdom.
On this third anniversary of GRACE PARTAKERS – well, not the actual day but you get the idea! – I stop to recognize that somewhat like David ( no I am not a “David” ) I choose to follow an urging ( I hope not to presume ) of the Holy Spirit to write a short note on a single verse of scripture each day. I’ve fallen off “each day” but I strive to meet this expectation. My prayer is like David’s:
“And the speeches of my mouth shall be such, that they please; and the thinking of mine heart is ever[more] in thy sight. Lord, mine helper; and mine again-buyer. (May the words out of my mouth be such, that they please thee; and may the thinking of my heart be acceptable before thee forevermore, O Lord; my helper, and my redeemer.)”
I’d like that “the thinking of my heart be acceptable” to God. I’d like that “the speeches of my mouth” please Him. Only God knows my heart; only He can judge my motivations. Even I not dare to say that what I write makes any difference in His Kingdom. I can only hope.
And so my theme at GRACE PARTAKERS is to glorify the Lord, my God and “mine again-buyer!”
We forget this simple fact: “everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to” the Lord God. God is “head over all.” Eventually, all things are summed up in Christ, who is the second person of the Trinity, who is the Lord God. Ezra sums this up nicely:
“Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all.”
Notice what else — ha, besides everything — belongs to the Lord God: greatness, power, glory, splendor, majesty, and the kingdom.
Jesus says to His disciples and to the people, ‘Behold, the kingdom of God is at hand.’ Being the Lord God, Jesus indicates the kingdom is present in Him. He might as well say, ‘Behold, I Am the kingdom of God.’
“14 Bless ye men that pursue you; bless ye, and do not ye curse;
15 for to joy with men that joy, for to weep with men that weep.
16 Feel ye the same thing together; not understanding high things, but consenting to meek things[Feeling the same thing together; not savouring, or knowing, high things, but consenting to meek things, following meek fathers]. Do not ye be prudent with yourselves;”
Of course, so does Jesus.
“3 Blessed be poor men in spirit, for the kingdom of heavens is theirs. [Blessed be the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.]
4 Blessed be mild men [Blessed mild], for they shall wield the earth.
5 Blessed be they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
6 Blessed be they that hunger and thirst rightwiseness, for they shall be fulfilled [for they shall be filled].
7 Blessed be merciful men [Blessed the merciful], for they shall get mercy.
8 Blessed be they that be of clean heart, for they shall see God.
9 Blessed be peaceable men, for they shall be called God’s children. [Blessed the peaceable, for they shall be called the sons of God.]
10 Blessed be they that suffer persecution for rightwiseness, for the kingdom of heavens is theirs [for the kingdom of heaven is theirs].”
We are not called to arrogance, war, haughtiness of spirit, ambivalence, impurity, or ease. Rather, we are called to mildness, poverty of spirit, peace, purity, mourning, and persecution.
In one sense, the words of Paul are reminiscent of the saying: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, walk a mile in them, and then think about your attitude. Then, you may bless them that pursue you; you may weep with those who weep, and be joyful with those who are joyful.
A man finds a treasure buried in a field. This reminds me of those people you may have seen on the beach sweeping with a metal detector. When the beeping goes off, they dig and pull up whatever it is they’ve found. The point is they are looking for buried treasure.
Most people in life are looking for treasure. They are looking for the meaning of life, at least if they are honest with themselves. Typical questions include: Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Why was I born? Why do I have to die? What happens after I die? Is this all there is?
Jesus says once the man finds the treasure that’s buried in a field, he is so joyful he buries the treasure again presumably for safe-keeping and so he knows exactly where his treasure is. Then the man sells everything he has, so he can afford to buy the field and so secure the treasure for himself.
The point Jesus makes is that the buried treasure is for the one who finds it and recognizes its great value. Likewise the kingdom of Heaven is for the one who seeks it, finds it, recognizes its “very special value, goes and sells everything and buys it.” (Matthew 13:46)
“Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
I know that in the moment Jesus says this, He is indignant because His disciples rebuke parents – most likely – who bring their children to Jesus for His blessing. What are you thinking!? Don’t stop them! Don’t you know, can’t you tell!? The kingdom of God belongs to people who become children – childlike: trusting, open, frank in their honesty, desirous to please. Don’t you know?