Skip to content

The Good, the Bad and the Really Good! (A Saturday Special)

Today’s Saturday special diverts from the red letters a bit to an exhortation from James. This word has had an impact on me this week, and I wanted to share it with you

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 (NASB)

My friend Larry pointed this verse (17 above) out to me yesterday at breakfast - well he mentioned it, and suggested that when we argue the scriptures with others to prove our points, this puts the wisdom we are arguing in question.

As I looked at this passage it convicted me regarding my use of scripture in the past. Many times I have begun from a place of pride suggesting that I have a greater knowledge of scripture than the person I am talking with, and so I must be right. I took an air of superiority and came into conversations with a distinct “you can’t tell me anything I don’t already know” attitude.

Honestly, I do have a pretty good grasp of the Bible, and some ability in navigating scripture, but as soon as I sprinkle in my arrogance and unteachable nature, I become indistinguishable from a Pharisee.

Look at this list of dos and don’ts from the above passage. [Side bar here, look how James teaches – he makes a sandwich of the truth. Some things to do – some really bad stuff to avoid – and the results of the good stuff if you will embrace it! Good method of correction.]


  • Wisdom is DEMONSTRATED in our lives by good behavior! (Head knowledge – Who really cares what you know if it doesn’t translate to who you are? [Tweet This])
  • Wisdom is GENTLE. (I have been guilty of wielding what I thought was wisdom like a battle-axe.)

The BAD:

  • Bitter Jealousy
  • Selfish Ambition (Yep – for sure I have used my version of wisdom to make myself look good. Also note that he tags it with “in your heart” which tells me this is not just your demeanor, but the “why” underlying your approach to wisdom.)
  • Arrogant (This one hurts me deeply, as I ponder some conversations I have had in the past. The verse says that when we approach wisdom with arrogance, we lie against the truth.)

Bad Wisdom is:

  • Earthly
  • Demonic (Wow)

Bad Wisdom leads to:

  • Disorder
  • EVERY EVIL THING (that is pretty bad!)

The Character of the GOOD wisdom:

  • Pure
  • Peaceable
  • Gentle
  • Reasonable
  • Full of Mercy and Good Fruit (I like good fruit)
  • Unwavering
  • Without Hypocrisy
  • Sown in Peace by Peacemakers

So check out the character of good wisdom! James is not playing around here. This is quite a description. In order for God’s wisdom to be well represented we must strive to walk in this character. Pure heart, not looking to advance ourselves, but those we counsel, in a spirit of peace, not discord, gentle, not on the attack, reasonable, not driven by dogma, merciful and fruitful, not wishy-washy, no play acting, and pressing for peace.

Can you bring wisdom in this way?

Thanks for reading today.


0 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad and the Really Good! (A Saturday Special)

  1. Eva

    This issue is at the heart of much discord among the brethren (and sistren) -- denominational walls, doctrinal factions, and the like. "Can't we all just get along?" I believe it is possible to share our doctrinal interpretations and revelations without becoming obnoxious. This is a powerful posting and I'm thankful for your transparency in posting it. Let's pray for the unity of the Body of Christ and that the love and character of God transforms us into His image more each day.

    1. Ben Nelson

      Just Friday i was listening to all the arguments going back and forth about CFA etc, and thinking about how satan so subtly brings discord into the body to divide us. It breaks my heart. Thanks Eva.

  2. Stephen R. Nelson

    I wrote a very thoughtful and meaningful, possibly brilliant response on here this morning and in the rabbit trail of trying to verify my WordPress ID, it got lost and I didn't have time to redo it. But basically I was thinking the you've probably "wanted" to say a few things in response to some of my off the wall comments and posts. But you are kind and gentle and you let them go. Thanks. I know for sure there are some issues we wouldn't agree on, but I appreciate that you are open minded and Christ-like in your self control when it comes to correcting your brother (s)! Thanks. There was something else I said earlier too... OH I know, there are conversations going on about this community that has been called SBNR (spiritual but not religious) I am probably considered religious but not spiritual by some and who knows what some of my church friends think. But I do honor God and he deserves my worship. Which is great b/c I love to worship. But the SBNR people... I want to look into that more, I'm sometimes frustrated by the bureaucracy and politics that develops in even a "mid-size" church of 5-8 hundred-ish like the one we attend. (That's it for now, I hope I don't lose this again... think I will copy it first!)

    1. Ben Nelson

      I actually appreciated the post you linked to, and the comment on both sides. I passed it on to some folks. I guess the thing that frustrates me is when our dialog breaks down to hate, and no one is listening. I actually heard good on both sides of the conversation. This post (above) was written last week and was not a reaction to all the CFA stuff. I appreciate you and your point of view.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: