I believe it can sometimes be that very sinful nature we are still struggling with that we mistake for wisdom. It can be quite easy for anyone to say, "God told me to do this," or "God told me to go there." Yet, it wasn't God. It was our own desire and selfish ambition. The book of James, chapter 3, says:
"If you are wise and understand God's ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom." (v.13)
"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 good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere." (v.17)
I like James. He leaves no room for making excuses. He's that friend you don't always want to confide in for fear of being told what you already know, but are not ready to admit or change. But we all need a James in our lives.
In chapter 3, James speaks about controlling our tongues, and of wisdom; true wisdom from above. We must never be so arrogant as to assume we will always know what to say or do, if we are not seeking God in His Word and diligently studying it. What we will be left with instead is a poor interpretation of His will in our lives, and be pretentiously building ministries, and raising families without the power of the Holy Spirit. God forbid.
We women have a unique way of communicating with our husbands. Unfortunately, "unique" is not always good. It doesn't quite always reflect the love of God or the respect we ought to have for them. There's that tongue and the wisdom James mentioned. It applies to so many areas of life, doesn't it? Outside of marriage and our homes, there are countless opportunities we have for serving others well and taming our tongues.
We may have someone's company we don't particularly enjoy. Are we speaking and acting with God's wisdom, or our own interpretation of holiness, spreading gossip by asking others to "pray for him/her because _________?"
We may have a big decision on the balance. Are we using godly wisdom by seeking Him first, or are we making decisions based on financial gain, convenience, or what the majority ruled?
We may be young and hanging with the wrong crowd, knowing well that our partaking in certain activities and/or behavior, dishonors God. Are we using wisdom to avoid such company in that setting? Are we cursing in their presence, continually defaulting to our old nature?
We may be a mother under a tremendous amount of stress due to our child's behavior or mere existence (it happens). Our responsibilities weigh us down. But are we controlling our tongues and our attitudes, and being a godly example, carefully choosing words that properly reflect the God we serve?
How well are you doing in taming your tongue? How about using God's wisdom?
I have found it difficult to do both. It appears my words escape me before I even consider them, sometimes. In ministry, I want, with all my heart, to walk in God's will; no matter the cost; no matter the way. Yet, He doesn't leave me specific instructions to my own life in His Word. He didn't write, "Cynthia, make sure you have this many outreaches a year," or "Stop doing tea parties and concentrate on this instead." He didn't make clear which projects to pick up or give up. But He did leave us with much wisdom in it. He also still speaks in our prayer time, in our spirit, in our dreams. We must remain sensitive to His voice by continuously meeting with Him for communion, confession, and worship.
To be honest, many of the decisions I make have been in fear that I may not exactly be doing God's will. Not because they're sinful, just not part of His plan, rather. I seek God in prayer and if I see doors opening, I take a step of faith, remembering that "nothing you do for the Lord is ever in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)
It can be quite unsettling to doubt our choices in fear of walking outside of God's will. It can cause unnecessary turmoil in our lives, preventing us from making changes or moving forward in any particular area. The goal of being obedient is not to instill paralyzing fear into us, but to remind us to turn to God's Word when making decisions.
One of the most difficult times to be obedient, control the tongue, and use wisdom, is when we are being unfairly criticized, mocked, confronted, or verbally attacked. But remember the fruit of the Spirit? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
What fruit are we bearing? In all things, consider that you are an ambassador of Christ.
We might have casually read through these lines, but often in the Gospels you find Jesus seeking solitude to pray. He sought His Father. There was absolutely no compromising, even in the face of betrayal, pain, and death. Why? He knew His purpose and why He had come. He knew the God He served. He knew He had nothing to prove other than what was asked of Him by the Father. He was bold. He was loving. He was committed and determined. What appeared to have been interruptions only glorified the Father when Jesus healed and taught the multitudes. Not all interruptions to our well-planned days are Satan, attempting to run us off course. It may very well be God, bringing glory to His name.
Do our choices, both of words and actions, tell of our commitment to Christ? Do they testify of our salvation and transformed lives? They ought to. We must confess to God our sins and allow His love to continue to have its way with us. It is displayed through His presence, provision, promises, and His Word. "If you need wisdom," James says, "ask our generous God and He will give it to you...But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind." -James 1:5-6
I have felt that way before, as many have, I'm sure; tossed about like the waves in the sea. That's when I must come to the realization that my trust was not in God alone, but in my own meager attempts to rule my own life, as if I hadn't a Father in Heaven. I don't want to speak as if I don't, any more than I want to act as if I don't.
Wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the foundation of it (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10).
If it is our sincere desire to honor our Creator, we will strive to know Him. The more we know Him, the clearer His love for us will be. That deeper understanding of His love for us will compel us to put our faith in action. After all, our faith, "Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless." -James 2:17
I like James. What he said is not always convenient, but it is necessary and true. We're not here for convenience; we are here to glorify our Father in Heaven. If we want to do so, we must stay close to Him, our Source. And when we struggle, we must stay close to Him still, but we must also be willing to talk to the "James" in our lives that will tell us what we might not want to, but need to hear.
You may consider me your "James" today. I urge us all to put aside any excuses or feelings that prevent us from living life the way God calls us to; with wisdom, holiness (by God's standards, not ours), and words that build up, not tear others down.