“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
James 3: 17-18
James 3: 9-18
Picking up on our Mission Impossible from Wednesday we are immediately faced with an example of which I suspect we are all culpable; praising God one moment then criticizing fellow human beings made in the image of God the next (vs. 9-10). Our inability to control our tongue is something I believe that we are all conscious of but perhaps we wonder why we find it so hard? We began to answer that question in the last blog; what we say flows out of our hearts. James digs deeper into this causal factor with vivid imagery; does salt water flow from a fresh water spring, can a fig tree bear olives (vs. 11-12)? The latter example reminds me of the Lord’s words that a tree will be known by its fruit (Matthew 12: 33). If we want to know the type tree we can look to the fruit, if we want to know a person, or indeed ourselves, we can spend some time listening to the words spoken.
We cannot change our hearts, which is why taming the tongue is Mission Impossible for us. For God though, nothing is impossible (Matthew 19: 26). James points to the problem and the solution as he describes two types of wisdom (vs. 13-16). One type of wisdom is worldly and produces fruit such as envy and selfish-ambition which damage our hearts and results in disorder and evil practices. The other type of wisdom comes from heaven and produces humility and the fruit of a good life evidenced in word and deed.
Jesus is for us the Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1: 30). He came from heaven to make peace with God in the hearts of human beings. If we give Him our hearts He will produce in us a harvest of righteousness (vs. 17-18). Our lives will be transformed both immediately and gradually.
I have mentioned a number of times in St. Aidan’s that in my last vocation if there was something on fire people came to look and oftentimes crowd control had to be put in place. James talked about how the tongue can be a spark that sets our lives on fire in an evil and negative way (vs. 6). Imagine instead that our hearts and therefore tongues were set on fire by the Wisdom of God with His love; how our lives would be changed and our witness impact others. We would in turn become peacemakers who harvest fruits of righteousness. Others would then know that we are branches on the Vine of Jesus Christ; they would know that Christ lives because of the fruit of our words and deeds. Oh that the Father’s Church would so burn with the passion of Jesus Christ.
To Ponder: What does your tongue reveal about the condition of your heart? How might the peace of Christ change this?
Pray: Blessed are you Sovereign God, ruler and judge of all, to you be praise and glory for ever. In the darkness of this age that is passing away may the light of your presence which the saints enjoy surround our steps as we journey on. May we reflect your glory this day and so be made ready to see your face in the heavenly city where night shall be no more. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
Praise: Let the flame burn brighter by Graham Kendrick
Shine Jesus Shine sung by Graham Kendrick
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.