Recently I was forced to bring my car to a complete stop on a busy road. A man in front of me had slammed on the brakes of his van, interrupting the flow of traffic. He climbed out of his van, walked to the front of the idling vehicle and stooped to pick something up. As he passed in front of my halted car, I could see that he was carrying a tiny turtle that he proceeded to place gently at the base of some shrubs far away from the road.
For James, wisdom refers to a life lived in harmony with God and in line with things that are true: “if you are wise and understand God’s ways . . . ” (James 3:13). In other words, do we long to live wisely, to be true to the ways of God? Well, then this is what that type of life looks like: “[Do] good works with the humility that comes from wisdom”, “be peace loving”, and “be willing to yield to others” (vv.13,17). The thing I find most powerful in this passage, however, is James’ insistence that the wise, God-centred life is one that’s “gentle at all times” (v.17).
When believers in Jesus communicate with one another, sometimes there’s precious little gentleness. We may win an argument or prove a theological point, but do we act in ways that are in keeping with the gentle heart of God? We’re called to a life of gentleness.
John Yoder put it well: “The church seeks to help form people who can risk being peaceful in a violent world, risk being kind in a competitive world, risk being faithful in an age of cynicism, risk being gentle among those who admire the tough, risk love when it may not be returned, because we have the confidence that in Christ we have been reborn into a new reality.” —Winn Collier
365-day plan› Ezekiel 37:1-14