Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
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. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
If there was ever a time more fractious in my lifetime, it might have possibly been in the 1960s when there were protests, riots and cities burning. But my vote for the most troubled times in our society is right now. And I would like to say that not a few of us are on the edge, and easily pushed over in our unguarded moments.
There are no easy, simple answers to the impasse in our society right now. It took quite a while and incrementally to get where it is today. For any lasting change for the better, it will take time and plenty of work.
We can argue the merits or demerits of the present division all day, and it probably will do little or nothing to help. There are actually some of both. Dangerous, yet remaining problems which are out in the open. What is needed more than ever is wisdom, pure and simple. The wisdom James speaks of here.
There is plenty to be upset over, and neither side in the debate today is without fault. And we Christians have been drawn into it, with vehement words spoken on both sides. Many white evangelicals almost invariably vote a certain way for biblical and political reasons. Then a few vote the other way for biblical and political reasons, as well.
What is needed today, perhaps as much as ever, are people who actually embody the wisdom James speaks of here. It’s not a matter of seeking wisdom and then getting it, although that certainly is important as well (James 1). But it’s a matter of actually being wise. And that requires commitment over time. But in the meantime, we can work at being as wise as possible, drawing from God’s wisdom in scripture (see Proverbs) and in Jesus.
Let’s pay close attention to what James is saying and getting at. Memorizing it would be good for the purpose of prayerful meditation over it.
What is needed today and any day is God’s work in drawing people to Christ to become his disciples, no less. It’s not so much the preservation of society, though that’s important in its place as well. What’s at stake is not only our witness, but both the temporal and especially eternal good of others. And God being glorified and made known through Christ. So that this time is an opportunity by faith to see God at work for good, and especially to see people drawn to Christ to become his followers. In and through him.