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Jesus Creed

Argument1.jpg Wisdom does not hang out with divisiveness. Wisdom can find its way into disagreements, but it will pursue the way of peace so it avoids being schismatic and divisive in style.

Notice how James puts this in James 3:14-16:

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.

Grammatically, this “but” contrasts with the works-in-humble-wisdom of 3:13. The wise person, in other words, cannot be characterized as a fighter, a schismatic, a divisive person, or a one given to constant strife. Why?


In the book of James, the schismatic emerges from self-ambition, denial of the truth (don’t we often recognize in our arguments that we have too much personally at stake?), and the earthly. Envy and selfish ambition create chaos. Wisdom doesn’t.

Anyone want to tell us a story where this lesson was learned? The unwise want to win, so they linger for the last word; the wise want truth and a community marked by love, so they walk away from strife.

Envy, zeal and selfish ambition are a style of what one thinks is the pursuit of truth — but James says that style of pursuing truth is neither wise nor truth-seeking. Tomorrow we look at the way of wisdom again.

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