Last week we learned that just as we are a new creation in Christ Jesus, forgiven and cleansed from all sin. As Christians, we are called to extend the same forgiveness to those who curse us, persecute and hurt us. We also are reminded of the many examples of people in the Bible, who, despite doing no wrong and honoring God, suffered even though they did good (e.g., Jesus, Job, Daniel, etc.).
We also know that we died to sin when we accepted Christ. We can no longer live in the same way we used to. What’s more, we will be united with Christ in resurrection when He returns (Romans 6:5).
Today, we will learn about how we are to rejoice despite our circumstances and regardless of how people treat us.
Life is already hard without people hurting us. But did you know that we can also make things harder for ourselves? Sometimes we do stupid things and blame God when it is really our fault.
Proverbs 19:3 (NLT) says: “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness
and then are angry at the LORD.”
So it’s important for us to learn to live in God’s wisdom. What do you think? Is God’s wisdom is the same as world’s wisdom?
Let’s turn to James 3:17-18 (NLT):
17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
Amen? God’s wisdom teaches us to love our neighbors, our selves, and even our enemies.
What does it mean to be pure? Love from God is pure. That’s why we receive Holy Spirit who gives us power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).
When you truly love your enemies in obedience to God’s commandment to love them, you’re not trying to get them to like you. You’re not looking for praise, you’re not loving them in order to make people to think you’re a good person.
When you really love your enemies, your love for them is pure – there is no jealousy, hidden reason or some selfish motive of any kind. Then we learn that wisdom from God is also peace loving.
Peace loving is not what people think it means. It doesn’t mean that you keep quiet because you know the other person is going to hurt you or punish you for speaking up. Keeping quiet when someone does wrong is enabling bad people to hurt you and others. Peace loving is NOT enabling abusive, wicked behavior!
Peace loving means that you don’t constantly try to pick fights or exclude anyone you dislike. A lot of people tend to be passive aggressive.
For example, if you ever disliked someone and kind of glared at them every time they showed up? Or you refused to talk to someone even if they say hi to you? That’s being passive aggressive, and definitely not peace loving. When you are peace loving, you don’t reject or make people feel alone.
Next we learn that wisdom from God is also gentle at all times. A person who is gentle is someone who knows how to forgive. Gentleness is connected to patience. Just as God is patient and gentle with us every day and every moment, we are called to be gentle and patient to others at all times.
Next we learn that wisdom from God is willing to yield to others. Being willing to yield to others doesn’t mean you let people get their way with you all the time. It means you know how to listen and be kind to others.
For example, when dividing inheritance among people, Zelophehad’s daughters came to Moses about their father’s property. Their names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. Traditionally, any property the father has is handed down to their sons. The sisters said that their father died leaving no sons. They also said that they should have a property too, even though the property is normally handed down from father to son, not to daughters. Moses yielded to the sisters and went before the LORD to ask Him what he should do. God listened to their case and told Moses that the sisters were right and to give them the property that normally would have gone to a son or to their relatives (Numbers 27:1-11). I believe God let this situation come up so that people will all see and know how to yield to others and elevated the status of women in those times when men usually ignored women.
When you are willing to yield, it means that you don’t always believe you are right. Sometimes even the worst person in your life might have a good point. We all need to be someone who is willing to listen to reason and knowing when to wisely yield. Ask God for wisdom!
Next, God’s wisdom is to be full of mercy. We don’t judge people harshly and condemn them. We make allowance for the faults of others, because God Himself gave great mercy to us through the cross. This does not mean we allow people to abuse us. It means we don’t condemn them, forgive and pray for them and bless them just as Christ forgave the people who mocked Him as He was suffering and dying on the cross for us.
After mercy, comes good deeds. Just like there is no love without action, wisdom from God leads to good deeds. You can tell a person is wise by how they live, not just by what they do or do not say. We know Jesus is wise because of how He lived. We also know that Daniel was wise because of his actions and speech. The Bible says that even fools will recognize wisdom in someone who has it.
Proverbs 14:33 (NASB): “Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding,
But in the hearts of fools it is made known.”
God’s wisdom also doesn’t play favorites. Refusing to play favorites is not natural for us to do. We naturally are nice to those who are nice to us back. We have a hard time being nice and kind to those who are mean to us. But God’s wisdom says: honor other people, who are made in My image, even when they do not treat you right. In doing so, we are following God’s command to love others in the same way He loved us (Mark 12:31).
Next, wisdom is always sincere. Have you ever met someone who was nice to you? Only later to find out they were nice because they wanted to take something, and not because they really cared about you. It feels insincere, right? It makes you think, “I can’t trust this person.” God says, don’t be insincere.
The world says it’s okay to use people to get what you want, but it really isn’t. When you are sincere, you aren’t pretending to be what you are not. You aren’t trying to manipulate people. Some Bible translations, instead of saying “always sincere,” say, “without hypocrisy”. Both mean the same thing. Don’t pretend to be one thing when you are trying to get something from someone. Be honest and sincere before God and people in what you say and do. This obviously doesn’t mean to just blab and tell other people everything – ask God and He will give you wisdom on what to do, what to say and how to say it.
All these things are the very same things Jesus showed us in His life! God is the very same things we learned! He is pure, peace loving, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good deeds, He doesn’t show favoritism, is always sincere.
Hallelujah! We have an awesome God!!!
Now when we obey God in all these things, what does the Bible say is the result?
18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:18 NIV)
Hallelujah! When we obey God’s wisdom, our actions are like planting seeds. These seeds transform our lives as we grow in the habit of following His wisdom, and transform the lives of other people.
The more you love your enemies and follow practical wisdom God gives that we learned in James 3:17-18, the more people will come to know what God is like.
It’s not something that comes naturally, which is why we depend on the power of the Holy Spirit to choose God’s way over our own natural feelings.
Let’s pray that we will not only receive and know God’s wisdom, but to also live out in His wisdom in every day life.