Paul Kretzmann Commentary - James 3:13 - 3:18

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - James 3:13 - 3:18


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Warning against strife:

v. 13. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

v. 14. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

v. 15. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

v. 16. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

v. 17. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

v. 18. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

The apostle now makes a direct application of the lessons contained in the first part of the chapter: Who is wise and intelligent among you? Let him show his works out of an excellent conduct in the meekness of wisdom. Christians should make use of proper wisdom, prudence, and common sense; they should show that their intelligence, controlled by their obedience to the Word of God, is well able to direct their actions in life. Such wisdom is not boastful and proud, vaunting itself at the expense of others, hut it is modest, humble, meek. It does the right thing, it behaves itself in a conduct which agrees with the will of God, not with the purpose of seeking its own glory, but only that of serving the Lord, this in itself being a sufficient reward for the believer. In this spirit he performs the works which the Word of God teaches him as pleasing the heavenly Father.

The opposite conduct may be expected in the case of a man that is full of carnal pride: But if you have bitter zeal and quarrelsomeness in your hearts, do not boast-and thus lie against the truth. If people calling themselves Christians cherish emulation and party-strife, jealousy and rivalry, if they are so puffed up with pride and self-satisfaction that they insist always upon being in the right and ever claim that the one disagreeing with them is wrong, they are doing so at the expense of love. Should they under such circumstances gain an advantage over the other and boast in triumphant glee of their having been proved in the right, this will almost invariably be a lying against the truth, since most victories gained under such circumstances are gained at the expense of truth and love, and will not aid in furthering the harmony which should be found in a Christian community.

Of such an exhibition of pride the apostle says: This wisdom is not that which is coming down from above, but earthly, sensual, devilish; for wherever jealousy and rivalry exist, there is disorder and every evil deed. People that make use of such schemes in overcoming their opponents, that always insist upon being right and want their ideas carried out, may think themselves exceptionally wise, as, indeed, their self-sufficient air would cause the uninitiated to believe. But the wisdom which they boast has nothing in common with true wisdom, such as is given by God, whenever the Church is in need of intelligent management. It is a wisdom, rather, which is of this earth only; it is sensual, in the domain of the senses, which is as far as human beings will ever proceed; it is devilish, it succeeds only in bringing about such conditions as are particularly pleasing to the devil, who is a liar and a murderer from the beginning. This, in fact, is the only fruit that can be expected where emulation and party-strife, jealousy and rivalry, exist, where everyone insists upon having his own ideas accepted, regardless of the views of others. Naturally, there will be disturbances, disorders, everything will be upset in such a congregation, a condition will result which will give rise to every evil deed, the passions finally having free and full sway.

Altogether different is the situation where true meekness and kindness are ever in evidence: But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, lenient, yielding, full of mercy and good fruits, not critically inclined, not hypocritical. This wisdom is from above, it is given by God and should be required of Him in prayer, chap. 1:5. If any man thinks that he is not in need of it, he will surely find himself in a position where he will make one mistake after the other. The wisdom which God gives, and which should at all times rule in the Church, is pure, chaste, holy, it guards against sin in every form; it is peaceable, wherever this can be done without denial of the truth, it maintains peaceful relations; it is lenient, forbearing, even under severe provocation; it is yielding, conciliatory, ready to enter upon a compromise or accept the opponent's views if this can be done without harm to the work of the Lord; it is full of mercy, compassion, and good, wholesome fruits, eager to be of service to the cause; not critically inclined, but generous, even when the discussion tends to become bitter; not hypocritical, but genuine, the Christian does not make use of tricks and devices to trap his opponent.

If this condition of affairs obtains in a Christian congregation, in a Christian community, then it will follow: But the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace to them that are peacemakers. Wherever the virtues are practiced as outlined by the apostle in the previous verse, there the people that practice them are sure to reap the fruit of their work. Where the peace of God rules the heart, there all the virtues that make for true righteousness of life will grow and flourish abundantly. Peace and righteousness are thus the result of the wisdom which is given from above, truly a splendid harvest to those that have shown the disposition which should always characterize the professed followers of Jesus.

Summary

In cautioning the Christians against false activity in teaching and the use of the tongue, the apostle shows them the dangers which attend much speaking, especially when the tongue is fanatically excited; he warns against the abuse of the tongue and against the disposition of mind which engenders strife.