“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17, ESV)
The class topic that Sunday was wisdom—what it is and how to obtain it. The discussion was lively and on target. Together we developed a good working definition of what the Bible meant when it talked about wisdom. Then we began to discuss how this relates to our everyday lives. What traits does a wise person possess?
I threw out a random question to the group. Acts 6 describes a problem that had arisen in the young church. Those speaking Greek felt their widows did not receive equal treatment with the Hebrew widows during the daily food distribution. To head off the growing complaints and to assure there was no partiality, the apostles came up with a plan. “Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.” (verse 3, ESV).
My question was this: Why was wisdom a requirement when those selected would only serve food, something we might view as a menial task. Finally, Judy spoke up. She told how her home fellowship group sometimes visited a downtown shelter to feed the homeless. She described how they always treat those they served with respect, carefully preparing the plates of food according to each person’s preferences. This was nothing the group had been instructed to do, but each helper instinctively responded with kindness, treating those they served with dignity.
I think Judy answered our question very well. It is the wise person who understands that each of us—regardless of how we are dressed, how much money we possess, or where we live—is made in the image of God. He loves the down and out street dweller just as much as He loves those with a prestigious address. When we perform an act of kindness, we are responding to that person as God Himself would.
James 3:17 (above) describes wisdom in everyday terms. It shows us how God wants us to interact with others. Many people may never enter the doors of a church or hear a sermon. They may never own or read a Bible. Unless someone demonstrates the love of God through living, active faith, how will they ever realize God’s love and mercy?
Colossians 4:5 tells us, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities” (NET). Our lives may be the only “sermon” someone hears—not audible words but actions filled with love. You may be the only face of God someone sees today.
Lord, give me wisdom as I interact with those around me. Help me to respond to them with impartiality, sincerity, and mercy. I am Your ambassador to those I meet. Help me to represent You well in all I do.