It’s been a while since continuing with my Gleanings from James theme. In all honestly, I found it difficult to continue with James 3 as concerning God’s Word on “the tongue”. I found my thoughts going in so many different directions and just needed to pull away from this for a season, until now. I will be addressing this topic in this post, however, I am going to approach it by jumping over the first twelve verses of James 3 to James 3:13-18, and then referring back to the portion skipped, by applying God’s Word from the latter portion of James 3.
“Who is a wise man…”, verse 13 begins. A whole book in God’s Word, the Bible, is dedicated to truths given to us by God, that we might have wisdom…God’s wisdom. It is the book of Proverbs. Shortly, we will be referring to some of what Proverbs has to say regarding wisdom and from those verses, perhaps we, each, might be able to better determine an answer for the title of this post, for yourself.
In verse 14 of James 3, we read what wisdom is not! It is not bitter envying and strife in our hearts. Interestingly enough God’s Word goes right to the ‘heart’ of the matter: pun intended. Man may be able to discern bitterness between men when it reaches the obvious outward stages: whether by body language, insinuations, physical interaction, hurtful or slanderous words…but God sees the heart, Scripture tells us, and it is there, in that seedbed, where God’s searchlight first spies those early seedlings of bitterness. It is there, in our hearts, that we first sin against God.
Earlier, in James 1:20-22, we read “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” We deceive OUR OWN SELVES!! So it seems that no one else is deceived…not those that observe us, and in particular and foremost, not God.
Why are we so obvious to everyone? What is it that they see and know about us that we have missed? Are we so overcome with our own pride and passions that we are blind? What is it that we must do to not fall into this worldly response; this ‘trap’ that belies our identification as a follower of Jesus Christ? The Lord considers perversity as an abomination to Himself; Proverbs 3:32, “For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.”
In James 3:17 we find God’s wisdom on the matter: “But 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.”
Wisdom that is “from above” will reveal and manifest itself with these fruits of righteousness…but it must have a beginning and that beginning is with God Himself. These attributes are Who He is and because He is Holy and has called His own to be holy, also, we must also respond with these same fruits of righteousness; our identification with Him.
Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy is understanding.”
That fear, is that awe, that reverence due God because He IS God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, Proverbs 3:19-20.
God embodies knowledge and understanding and if we need His wisdom, Proverbs 2:6 assures us God will give us of His wisdom, “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
In our earlier study of James 1:5,6a we recall God’s Word saying, “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing waivering…”
Returning to the thought in James 3:17 concerning the fruits of righteousness which those who are exercising God’s wisdom display: pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, merciful, bearing good fruits without partiality or hypocrisy, let’s return to the beginning of James 3, where James discusses the tongue.
In James 3:5-6 James points out how small a member of the body the tongue is, yet this tiny member is very powerful; powerful enough to to set ‘a fire, a world of iniquity; it defiles the whole body; it sets on fire the course of nature; and the destructive power of the tongue comes from Hell.’ Pretty strong edict on the tongue!
James 3:8 further describes this seemingly insignificant member of the body and reveals the tongue to be ‘untameable; an unruly evil; full of deadly poison’.
This same, tiny member of the body can both bless God and curse his fellow man. James 3:10b tells us “…these things ought not so to be.” Remember how in James 1:8 we read, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” The tongue displays a ‘double mindedness’ in its use.
And then James goes on to say in James 3:2 says “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” “Perfect man” meaning, mature man; a complete man. This man has understood all that we have already said concerning a man of wisdom.
James concludes this chapter saying in verse 18, “…the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
In closing let me share one more verse from Proverbs 1:7, that you might consider the question posed as you consider and meditate on this: Are You A Wise Man?
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The fool is interested in only following his own heart and not interested in seeking after God. His ways, he thinks, are right ways but in truth they are corrupt ways that lead to destruction both physically and spiritually. This man is always running from God and not toward God. The man that is running toward God and seeking God is ready to confess he is a sinner and ready to forsake his own way of thinking, his own way of living and repent; that is to turn from himself and his ways, to God and His ways.
When Jesus, whose birth we recently celebrated, came to earth as a babe, He came for the express purpose of fulfilling His Father’s will: to die on the cross of Calvary. It was in the shedding of His own blood for our sin that we, through His sacrifice, might gain entry into Heaven and have Eternal Life with God forever. This is God’s Mercy: giving us what we don’t deserve. It is God’s gift to us, but like any gift, we must receive it by faith. It is the only way to gain access to Heaven, according to God’s Word; John 14:6.
Will you accept the gift of Eternal Life God is offering you?
Are you a wise man?
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