But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy, (3:17).
There must have been some infighting amidst the beleaguered believers. Pressures, trials, persecution, and temptation can absolutely wear a body down, and the intense desire for self-preservation can easily breed discord and disharmony within the body.
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death, (James 1:14-15).
So while conflict has its inception in the heart, some of its deadliest weapons are launched with the tongue.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit, (Proverbs 18:21).
And James describes this power of the tongue as being untameable in our own strength. And if left to ourselves, the tongue will always have the upper hand, even going so far as to say that the only possible hope of ever reining in the tongue is by being completely perfect in every area of life.
For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to rein in the whole body as well, (3:2).
Sounds hopeless. So then, what are we left with? The untamed tongue as James aptly describes.
The boastful tongue, boasting of superiority as the teacher with all the answers. The duplicitous tongue, talking out of both sides of the mouth, blessing God and cursing the brethren. The jealous tongue, discontent with God’s good gifts and lashing out against what others have. The ambitious, arrogant tongue, willing to distort the truth for personal gain. The earthly tongue, fluent in the evil and venomous language of the devil.
James asserted that the tongue is actually a barometer of our faith.
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless, (James 1:26).
And there’s the key. Faith in His Wisdom from Above is our only hope of taming the tongue with works of gentleness and wisdom.
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom, (3:13).
But wait, James just told us that everyone stumbles in taming the tongue. Yes. Everyone but Jesus, His Wisdom from Above.
But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, (1 Corinthians 1:30).
“You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ …31 “He who comes from above is above all; the one who is only from the earth is of the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all, (John 3:28, 31).
Consider His Wisdom from Above
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere, (3:17 NLT emphasis added).
- His Wisdom from Above is Pure
- For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens, (Hebrews 7:26).
- His Wisdom from Above is Peace Loving
- and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross, (Colossians 1:20).
- His Wisdom from Above is Gentle
- “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” (Matthew 11:29).
- His Wisdom from Above is Willing to Yield
- “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me,” (John 6:38).
- His Wisdom from Above is Full of Mercy
- And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on do not sin any longer,” (John 8:10-11).
- His Wisdom from Above is Full of the Fruit of Good Deeds
- “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive,’” (Acts 20:35).
- His Wisdom from Above Shows No Favoritism
- When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners,” (Mark 2:16-17).
- His Wisdom from Above is Sincere
- For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. 20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge, (2 Corinthians 1:19-22).
How do we respond to His Wisdom from Above?
Taming the tongue. It is faith with works. And lest we get completely discouraged, let us always remember that it is as we live our life by faith in Jesus, His Wisdom from Above, that He will live His life through us as our only hope to tame the tongue.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me, (Galatians 2:20).
I was a very new believer attending the nine-month School of Evangelism with my husband at my church. One day I happened to be in a conversation with a classmate, harmlessly expressing my thoughts of exasperation about another believer. I thought my complaints were legitimate, and as had been my custom for many years, these grievances simply had to be aired. Thankfully, my words were falling on the ears of one, who although he was several years younger was ever so much wiser. And this brother in Christ quickly turned my focus to His Truth, calling out my sin, and my need for repentance and His Wisdom from Above.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,
To practice deeds of wickedness
With men who do iniquity;
And do not let me eat of their delicacies, (Psalm 141:3).
It has been a prayer I have prayed more times than I can even remember, sometimes more than once in a day.
And God promises that when we ask with unwavering faith for His Wisdom from Above, He will generously provide what we need to walk in a living faith that will work in the storms of our tempestuous tongue with His purity, peace, gentleness, submissiveness, mercy, good deeds, impartiality, and sincerity.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him, 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind, (James 1:5-6).
Let us live by faith doing the works of a peacemaker, that we would use our tongues to cultivate the peace and righteousness we have in His Wisdom from Above.
And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness, (3:18 NLT).
Living as a peacemaker is an identifying mark of the children of God. Oh, that we would allow our faith to work through our tongues that we would be identified as His adopted children who live in the blessings of those who belong to Him as we do the work of making peace by faith in His Wisdom from Above.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” (Matthew 5:9).