We are studying James 3:13-18 and James 5:7-12 for Sunday, August 30. This is a meditation on the signs of genuine wisdom, and an exhortation to patient endurance. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might want to ask of the text, and ourselves:
Verse 13 mentions “the gentleness born of wisdom.” Do we have any sense for how, or why, gentleness is born of wisdom? How do we ourselves understand that – that connection between gentleness and wisdom?
Do any examples come to mind? Or any examples of the unwisdom of non-gentleness? What are they?
Do any counter-examples or qualifications of the idea that gentleness is born of wisdom come to mind? What are they?
Does this amount to an ethical prescription for Christians? What’s the prescription, do we think?
What comes to mind when we hear the phrase “a harvest of righteousness”? What do we think this is referring to, specifically, concretely? [It might be worth making a list of all the things it might possibly be referring to.]
Again: what do we understand is the relationship between righteousness and peace; that is, peace as the seed or root stock of righteousness? How, or why, do we think righteousness “grows out of” peace?
Again, are there any implications of this vision for specific, concrete Christian behavior today? What are they?
Does the “harvest of righteousness” in James 3:18 have any relationship to “the coming of the Lord” in James 5:7, do we think? What relationship is that?
How do we understand the instruction in v9 not to groan against one another?
In particular, we might want to think about three dimensions: 1) what specifically we might be groaning about; 2) the limits of “one another”; 3) what counts as “groaning.”
So, when it comes to (1), do we think this means we’re not supposed to take exception to anything, or are some things OK to take exception to; point out as errors or injustices or things we want people to change?
When it comes to (2), does this mean only other Christians, or anyone?
When it comes to (3), does groaning include our private thoughts and feelings, or only public expressions? How public?
Why do we think we are not supposed to groan? [For instance, is it possible to groan and to love at the same time?]
Why do we think not swearing is so important to the author? [We might need to glance back at James 4:13-17 …]
Can we think of anything that connects this instruction to any other part of the text? Which part? Why?
Overall, the more I read and think about this text, and the more I hear about the news of the day, the more eerily timely it seems. We may want to reflect on that, if we can bear it.