James 3:17 has been the focus of the last few posts. The
verse provides a summary of the wisdom that comes from heaven, "wisdom
from above." We began with the first three components of this wisdom and
then moved to the centerpiece of being open to reason. Now we will focus on the
last three components. Here is verse 17, highlighting each of the seven
But the wisdom from above is first
open to reason,
full of mercy and good fruits,
The fifth component is to be "full of mercy and good
fruits." Think about this from the perspective of your children. Do they
see a parent who is full of mercy, with a life yielding a growing harvest of
the fruits of wisdom? One reason parents have a hard time showing mercy is that
they are not fully appreciative of the mercy that has been shown to them. The
parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35 illustrates this point.
A man was forgiven an enormous debt—one he could never repay—by his master. Yet
when he finds one who owed him, by comparison, just a few dollars, he is
unrelenting in his demand for full payment. He had obviously forgotten the
mercy shown to him. Parents can be like that. We can forget about the mercy
shown to us and concentrate only on the many failings of our children. No, I am
not suggesting that you ignore your children’s need for discipline – just the
opposite. What I am suggesting is that you discipline from the strength of
mercy rather than the weakness of anger. Human wisdom from below tends toward
simple justice and retribution. Wisdom from above is about God's justice and mercy,
a better way to live, and a call to heed the gospel message. This is the good
fruit you want to give your children.
Impartiality means that God’s truth is what matters most.
This next component means that, as a parent, you will not be swayed by the emotional
ploys of your children or by your own personal preferences. Evenly applying
God’s Word to govern the discipline of your children is what makes impartiality
possible. That’s right, actually speaking and making direct application of
Scripture as you discipline your children is the only way to ensure that you are
being truly Christ-like in your parenting. I am not speaking primarily about
times of physical discipline. Your preventive, ongoing, daily, verbal discipline
(discipling) must also be filled with the wisdom of God’s words. Otherwise your
parenting will be driven by your emotions and impulses. You will not be
impartial in your actions. Your wisdom will not be from above.
The last component is sincerity, which is closely aligned
with the first component of purity. Your wisdom must be sincerely loyal to
Christ and his ways. If your wisdom is peppered by notions and conveniences
from the world, you will be divided in your parenting. Your loyalty will waver
between Christ and the world. Do not fall into that deadly trap! Your loyalty must
be focused only and always on bringing the power of the gospel to your
children. They must see the difference the gospel makes in this life. Your
devotion must be singular in purpose. That is sincerity, and your sincerity
must be devoted to Christ. Only then can you be confident of employing the
wisdom that comes from above in leading your children.
Wisdom from above is demonstrated by these seven components.
It is impossible to determine where one component ends and the next begins. But
these are the goals, the principles, that must control your parenting. This
section of six verses in James 3 is packed with insight. You will either deploy
earthly wisdom or heavenly wisdom as you lead your children. May God lead you
to a deepening love for wisdom from above.