Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: wisdom from above

Lessons for life from the epistle of James

1. If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. (3:14-15)
No matter how right I am about something, if I let myself become angry and bitter, I am wrong.

2. The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (1:20)
I may think I am standing up for God’s truth, but if I become angry I am damaging His cause.

3. The trying of your faith worketh patience (1:3)
I can’t increase my patience by avoiding situations that test it. Even if I sometimes fail the test, I should be learning that I can’t trust only in myself in those circumstances.

4. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (3:17)
I am not naturally endowed with this kind of wisdom. I must seek it from above, from God.

5. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (4:7)
Why couldn’t I figure out on my own how I should live? Instinctively, I resist the idea of submission to God, it sounds like defeat. I have discovered that my stubborn resistance leads to defeat and submission is the way of victory.

6. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (5:16)
But others won’t understand me. They don’t know the problems, temptations and frustrations that I have to deal with. But when we share our struggles with one another we realize how much alike we are and that we all face the same spiritual enemy. By prayer we all have access to the power to overcome our doubts, trials and temptations.

7. If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well (2:8)
This is rightly called the royal law. It is the one rule for citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Everything else is just commentary.

Getting along with difficult people

Go into any bookstore, secular or Christian, mortar and bricks or online, and you will find at least a couple book titles that offer to teach you how to get along with difficult people.  There is a management training organization which holds seminars across the country, year after year, to teach managers how to deal with the difficult people at work.  Evidently there are enough difficult people out there to make  a steady revenue stream available to those who write these books and teach these seminars.

How come there are no books and courses to teach the difficult people how to stop being difficult?

I don’t suppose there would be any market.  After all, I am not the difficult one, it’s the people around me who are difficult.  And even if I do come across as a little difficult at times, it’s only because I have to constantly put up with all these other people who are causing me so much difficulty.

There is a deeper problem, how can you teach someone not to be difficult?  There is a form of courtesy and good manners that can be taught, and should be taught much more than  it is.  Yet the best that good manners can do is produce a person who is difficult in a very courteous way.

I believe most of my readers are Christians, so you already know the answer.  It is not within the scope of human ability to cease being difficult, it has to come from God.  It is found in the changed heart produced by the new birth and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (James 3:17-18).

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the difficult people around me could be like that?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could be like that?

Ah, there is the rub.  How can it be that others still find me difficult to get along with if I am a Christian?  It must be that I am somehow quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

How do I look at other people?  Can I see the life of Christ in fellow believers, despite the outward quirks that I find annoying?  Which do I see more clearly?  Which do I look for?

Can I see every person that I meet, saved or unsaved, as being created in the image of God, despite the ways this image may be distorted?   Do I see the unsaved as being someone for whom Christ died?  Do I believe they are part of the “all men, everywhere” whom God is calling to repentance today?

Finally, I am left to wonder if the thing that makes me difficult to others isn’t directly related to what I am seeing when I look at them.  Lord, may I have the grace to see what you are seeing.

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