Jms. 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
James has made it clear that faith is proven to be genuine by the deeds it produces. Now he wants us to understand that wisdom is demonstrated not so much in what we know but in the humility of our behavior. The more wisdom one gains, usually with years, it becomes increasingly obvious that most situations are best addressed with a gentle, humble spirit. A truly wise individual will want to live that way.
My pastor played basketball in high school and college. B-ball analogies and phrases find their way into his conversation pretty regularly. Recently when I was facing a personal challenge his counsel to me was “go low.” He meant I wouldn’t go wrong by maintaining a humble attitude and remaining soft and gentle no matter how irritated or downright belligerent the other person became. That was wise counsel, straight from Jms. 3:13.
I owned responsibility for my part in the situation. I had moved too fast and caused great discomfort and eventual misunderstanding on the part of key people. I had been seen as “not a team player.” The situation was diffused because the other party found it unnecessary to convince me of my wrongdoing; I readily acknowledged it. I went low.
There were challenges I needed to lay out for the other person and by God’s grace I did that – softly. It I didn’t neglect to express what needed to be said but I said it gently. The deeds done in humility seem to have paved the way for improved relationship between us. For that I am genuinely grateful to God.
I have been impressed with Peter’s words in Ch. 5, verse 6, “Humble yourselves.” Before those two words came alive to me I was in the habit of asking God to humble me, since I knew my pride was sinful. But God doesn’t offer to do the humbling. He tells us to do it ourselves!
In other words, the tough job of going low, choosing to own responsibility for what we’ve done wrong, or just deciding to be soft and gentle even if we are the offended party – those are behaviors we have to choose. I believe God will empower us by his grace to do that choosing, but he will not impose humility upon us.