I was so repelled by the anger of a radio preacher the other day. His voice was angry! So harsh, the sound. Why would a preacher sound angry preaching his sermon? He was yelling at me!
Scripture shows us a different tone: “The gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13-18). It seems to be so missing – all around, these days: in pulpits, in political diatribes, uncivil conversations, in fake news broadcasts, in road enraged drivers, in not-so-neighborly interactions.
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and [i]selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, [j]natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and [k]selfish ambition exist, [l]there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [m]reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the [n]seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace [o]by those who make peace.
Born again, Spirit-filled Christians, of all peoples, should be gentle. Where is it – that gentleness of wisdom? We are way too, too filled-up and influenced by our jealousies, our selfish ambitions, our arrogance (verse 14).
Verse 14 points-out that arrogance is actually lying, trying to hide what is really the truth. In our culture – lying and disregard for the truth is pervasive. So many prefer lying – rather than admit to the truth of the matters at hand. Such shameful behavior by well-educated, supposed “professionals” and professing “Christians”.
I am determined to allow the Holy Spirit to work in me… more. I want to be a more righteous man. Don’t you? I aim to develop more “good behavior”, as James puts it. I want to be:
full of mercy and
The darker side of “behavior” is not attractive to me at all, but I see it popping up inside me (James 3:14-16).
The dark side:
14 …bitter jealousy…
selfish ambition in your heart,
do not be arrogant
and so lie against the truth.
15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is
I’m examining my life more these days. How about you? What’s your behavior lookin’ like? I want more of “that which comes down from above” (verse 15)… more of THAT, and less of the darker side. I’m working at it!
12 So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]. 13 For it is [not your strength, but it is] [a]God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.
14 Do everything without murmuring or questioning [the providence of God], 15 so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness], 16 holding out and offering to everyone the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to rejoice greatly because I did not run [my race] in vain nor labor without result.