Faith at Work

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Are your ambitions pure?

Dr. Jim Denison

James 3:13-18

Verse 13. Who is wise and knowing among you? Let him show by the good behavior his works in meekness of wisdom.

Who returns us to the teachers of 3:1, as speech and wisdom are both liable to abuse (Robertson 45). While “who” may point specifically to teachers, church members at large are included. The problem is that some people who believe they were endowed with superior wisdom and understanding have divided the church because of their teaching; such is a sin of the tongue (Martin 128).

Wise in the Jewish context does not point to a speculative philosopher but a person who possesses practical, moral wisdom (Rienecker 388). Knowing is to possess expert or professional knowledge (Rienecker 388). Good behavior points to the entire manner of life (Johnson 270). Good in this context connotes not only excellence and beauty, but moral purity.

Meekness is submission to God, the opposite of arrogance. Paul warned that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Wisdom produces works, and is characterized by meekness (Martin 129). Jesus called himself “meek” (Matthew 11:29), and exhorts his followers to display the same character (Matthew 5:5). Wisdom is a desirable quality in the community (Romans 16:19; 1 Corinthians 3:10; 6:5; Ephesians 5:15; Johnson 270), and so requires the model of leaders.