James 3: 13 – 18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
Reflection There is a running joke in my family that I have more letters after my name than I have in it as I have been fortunate enough to go to 4 different universities to study. Does that make me wise? No.
They say that wisdom comes with age – as the URC approaches a milestone birthday next year and can look back on half a century – does that make us wise? No.
Wisdom does not come from intelligence or necessarily age. Wisdom comes from experience and empathy and listening. We are wise when we allow ourselves to experience life and learn from our mistakes. We are wise when we listen to people who know more than we do and take on board their advice. We are wise when we do not brag about our achievements but use them to serve others and to challenge the world. James talks about a wisdom that is pure and gentle, willing to yield and not selfish or boastful or envious. A wisdom that comes from love, not ego, a wisdom of listening to others and valuing their story. A wisdom of sharing, caring, and acting for the benefit of all, not just ourselves.
Such wisdom does not come from intelligence, nor from age but comes from above, from a God of love who enables us to gain wisdom through prayer, service, and our living of a good life.
Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference, living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; taking this world as it is and not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
The Rev’d Ruth Watson SCM MediaCityUK Church, Salford Quays