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Friday, December 7, 2018

Don’t Get Defensive

In review of James 3:17 it says, “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” (NIV).

James 3:13-18
If I want to be wise and understand God's ways, I would prove it by living an honorable life, and doing good works with humility that comes from wisdom. However if I am bitterly jealous and I harbor selfish ambition in my heart, I shouldn’t try to cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God's kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there I will find disorder and evil of every kind. 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. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

I’m reminded this morning that true wisdom can be measured by the depth of a person's character. Just as I can identify a tree by the type of fruit it produces, I can evaluate my own wisdom by the way I act. Foolishness leads to disorder, but wisdom leads to peace and goodness. In my life, am I tempted to escalate the conflict, pass on gossip or fan the fire of discord? Careful, winsome speech and wise, loving words are the seeds of peace. God loves those who are peacemakers.

Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition are inspired by the devil. It is easy for us to be drawn into wrong desires by the pressures of society and sometimes even by well-meaning Christians. By listening to the world’s advice to: "Assert yourself," "Go for it," "Set high goals," I can be easily drawn into greed and destructive competitiveness. Seeking God's wisdom delivers me from the need to compare myself to others and to want what they have.

Am I a reasonable person? Can others reason with me? The Bible says if I’m wise, I’m reasonable and open to suggestions. A wise person does not antagonize others’ anger, does not minimize their feelings, and does not criticize their suggestions. I know at times I can be overly sensitive. If somebody makes a suggestion, I take it as a personal criticism and get defensive. But a wise person can learn from anybody!

Wise people are not defensive. They’re not stubborn. They’re open to reason. They’re willing to listen and learn. James 3:17 describes wisdom as “submissive,” but that word really means reasonable, willing to listen, and open to ideas and suggestions. The Living Bible says, “It allows discussion.”

If something is true, listen and learn from it. If it’s false, ignore it and forget it. “A fool thinks he needs no advice, but a wise man listens to others” (Proverbs 12:15 TLB).

Bottom Line:
Wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere.

What this means to me:
The wisdom I obtain from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy.

In summary, If I want to be wise and truly understand God's ways, I should prove it by living an honorable life, and doing good works works with humility that comes from  wisdom. Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, I will find disorder and every kind of evil. Wisdom from above is first of all pure, peace loving, gentle and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It will show no favoritism and is always sincere. True wisdom can be measured by the depth of my character and how I act. When I seek God's wisdom I get deliverance from the need to compare myself to others. It would be wise for me to not antagonize another's anger, minimize their feelings or criticize their suggestions. If someone does make a suggestion, don't take it as a personal criticism and become defensive. Don't be defensive or stubborn. Be open to reason. Be willing to listen and learn. Be open to ideas and suggestions. Allow discussion. If something is true, listen and learn, if it's false, ignore and forget it.

While I like to think of myself as be a reasonable person, I know that I do take things personally and become defensive. I still need a lot of help from God to overcome this. Perhaps this is why I have situations that come up all the time. God is giving me the opportunity to learn from it and change myself so that I don’t automatically become defensive. This morning Father I thank you for your word on this manner and pointing this out in my life. You are teaching me through my experiences. I pray for your assistance, guidance and wisdom in this area, as well in the decisions and organization of my work today. Help me to lead well and to respond rightly to others. This I pray in you Son Jesus name, amen!

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