James 3:13-18 (ESV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
THOUGHTS FROM THE BOARD - "FIRST PURE"
James begins the list of traits that distinguish “wisdom from above” by keeping first things first. Purity, granted through repentance and faith in Christ as Savior and Lord is foundational, primary and essential to acquire wisdom from above. The idea of living ‘pure’ in our culture has become indistinguishable in that everyone is ‘right in their own eyes’. Living daily with indifference all around us tends to dilute the truth, even for those strong in their faith. As a result those who bear the name of Christ often take on the characteristics of the world in how they live, walk and talk.
Thankfully God did not leave us to our own ‘interpretation’ but provided clear instruction in His Word. For example, Psalm 19:7-9 declares “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever, the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether”. The Psalmist goes on to say these are more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey!
The purity referred to in James 3:17 implies devotion to God -- purity that is actually from Him, found in Him and given by Him. The purity of Christ becomes ours when we trust Him as our Lord and Savior. As we seek Him and grow in His grace and knowledge we are being purified daily. Moreover, purification takes place in our hearts when we commune with God in prayer, confess our sins and acknowledge our desperate need of His grace. All these patterns grow our spiritual integrity and give foundation for moral conduct. Psalm 24:3-4a declares, “… Who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pureheart …”
Matthew 5 lists ‘attitudes that ought to be’ and confirms that those who are ‘pure in heart’ are blessed because they will actually ‘see God’. When our consciousness is toward pleasing God and being right in HIS eyes, He is purifying and sanctifying us to actually exemplify Him to the world. His Spirit confirms in our spirits how to live in this world in a way that ‘defines God to the world, and helps the world find God’. The scriptures promise that God is near to those who seek Him, call upon Him and undertake to please Him. Our devotion to God will show up in how we live. A pure heart is our inward motive that drives our outward manner. Essentially, Godly wisdom that is ‘pure’ reflects the Person and purposes of God. Wisdom from above is ‘first pure’ because there is no other way to gain wisdom, know wisdom, display wisdom or live wisely apart from being purified by His ...
Pure: Free from moral fault; innocent.
Psalm 51:10 - Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Matthew 5:8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
ON A PRACTICAL NOTE:
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:26-27.
How do we model purity to our children as well as our community? Why would scripture tell us to visit orphans and widows in their distress? What is their distress? Widows, for the most part, are lonely and a simple touch to the shoulder or hug means the world to them, taking the time to sit with them over a cup of coffee reminds them that life is marching on and perhaps they will be encouraged to rejoin the walk. One of my friends was widowed in her early 60’s (fairly young by my standards) and was telling me with excitement that she had been invited out to have dinner with a group of couplesthey used to get together with regularly. I began to think if she hadn’t been asked out to dinner in a long, long time then how long had it been that someone brought her flowers “just because.” Flowers delivered, her day brightened, and I am fulfilling a biblical mandate. Widows are lonely, orphans feel out cast, undesirable, unworthy and unwanted, what are the ways you and your family can be the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives?
The CFH Board shares insights about how fear, the busyness of life, and past experiences can overtake our thoughts and cause us to abandon clear thinking. Suggestions are given as to the importance of soberminded living and what it looks like to walk sobermindedly in our present culture. To order click here.
Most Commonly Asked Questions of Contact Moms
Q: If my child does not profess Christ as Savior, can I still hold him/her to biblical principles?
A. Believers in Christ can and should hold their children to biblical principles and precepts even if the child has not [yet] put their faith in Christ. We have several years to train the hearts of our children and input valuable biblical truths before they make a choice to follow Jesus or not. But be cautious, even after they decide to give their lives to Jesus the real work begins, their hearts need to be discipled. We as their parents should be training our children in the reality that believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior was just one of many “first steps” in their eternal relationship with Jesus.
As presented in the Toddler material, “actions precede beliefs". Parents train to obedience and expect their toddler to comply even before they completely understand the why behind parental instructions. Having realistic age appropriate expectations for compliance from a young child when giving instructions can actually help set the stage for biblical understanding which will follow in time. As a child grows and comes to understand the Gospel, he then becomes motivated by the goodness of God to then obey His precepts. Part of the parenting process is to till the fallow ground of the heart preparing it for the seed of the gospel to take root, grow and produce fruit.
Biblical principles provide the standard of proper conduct regarding our relationship to God, others and self. Therefore, right, wrong, good and evil as biblically defined are universally applicable to everyone. Our children need to understand that Christian conduct does not make one ‘Christian’, only moral. The Law was our guardian. (Gal 3:19-26) Holding our children to obedience will prayerfully help them see their inability, and reveal to them God’s ability. Complete or genuine obedience comes from being in relationship with a Holy and Righteous God.
Respect, honor and honesty are timeless virtues that benefit any culture, and therefore, are valuable for everyone, the believer in Christ or ‘pre-believer’. Most parents desire to raise good and honest children who develop into adults who become decent citizens respecting the laws of the land, obeying the rules and living honestly before their fellow man. Christian parents should live, speak and display the truth of the Gospel before their children every day. This is paramount to Godly parenting. Remember we can only train them to our own level of obedience and maturity. Out of obedience to Christ, we would not hesitate to share Christ with a stranger. With similar urgency, our job as parents is to explain and display biblical principles and precepts to our children. We should be eager and prepared to ‘give reason for the hope that lies within us’ at any moment. (I Peter 3:15). The children God has placed in our lives to train and influence are our primary and God-given mission field. Deut. 6:4-7ff begins with the powerful Shema! (a frequent blessing used by the Jewish people) “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” Following this proclamation are clearly spelled out instructions for the perpetuity of righteousness; first have these truths in your heart and then pass them on to your children at every possible occasion.
We are instructed in Proverbs 22:6 to train our children in the way they should go. ‘The way’ speaks to steering our children to conduct themselves in ways that please the Lord. This proverb concludes with the awareness that putting the moral way into our children can assist them to know the way so that they have the familiarity so as not to depart or turn away from it. We can and should do all that we can do as parents to instill truth into our children and to call them to God’s holy standards. While doing so, we should pray like it all depends on us, knowing our child’s salvation ultimately depends on God. As we faithfully do our part, God is more than faithful to do His.