We are only human, after all. Whatever we see, hear, taste, smell and feel makes a difference to our every day. We judge people and places based on our senses. We enjoy or reject in a split-second decision whatever and whoever we encounter because of what we sense physically, even before we can make a full mental assessment. It is our physical point of reference to interpret our world.
If our physical senses so determine our world, what about our inner being that decides and judges in the spiritual realm? God’s word often mentions our senses. Jesus’ own words (quoting Isaiah 6:10) come to us in a reproachful tone, judging our superficial sensual approach to life.
For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ (Matthew 13:15)
Jesus appeals to our senses to see deeper and understand. Seeing and hearing are mentioned with relevance to the spiritual realm of understanding and ultimately the healing of our inner being. Our eyes and ears will lead us into a deeper walk with Jesus. Healing or spiritual well-being is significantly linked to anointed senses. In the same chapter Jesus warns: He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” I am certain He was not talking about the street sounds of ancient Jerusalem. His words are the key to insight and inner healing.
Anointed eyes and ears to see with understanding is the wisdom of which we spoke in the previous Pebble. Healing is the goal. Our spiritual walk through life is certain to contaminate our inner being with jealousy, fear, anger, unforgiveness and offence. Often these things pollute our soul and we are not at fault. It could all be the result of other people’s sin in our lives. There is so much evil and cruelty, loveless and graceless deeds around us, that we are daily confronted with spiritual and moral decisions. Children are most at risk and can never be blamed for the bitterness and festering anger that they have to cope with when they are exposed to emotional and physical abuse. Our enemy wants to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).
The consequences of evil in a life is reasonable. There is ample reason to be bitter, angry and unforgiving. It is not an illusion. The pain and wounds are real and hurts like hell. It is the wisdom that James mentions. It is the rational result of destruction, disease, divorce and deception that life throws at us.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. (James 3:13-16)
When I read this, I immediately think talk is cheap. It is not so easy to get rid of jealousy and envy. Self-preservation is often the underlying survivor’s strategy in a cruel world where everybody else is selfish. Life is unfair. It is fertile soil for jealousy and selfishness. It is difficult to handle promotion and success of other people when our own efforts are ignored. We constantly see people, rich and glamorous, smart and successful, while we have to handle tragedy and endless struggles. It is reasonable to be envious and filled with bitterness, but it is not “good” wisdom.
Wisdom is defined as the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. It sounds very good and positive.
I have to admit it was a shock to acknowledge “bad” wisdom. Wisdom is such a positive word and something that I strive for. I do not want to know about bad wisdom. I know God is the only source of true wisdom and cling to the first chapter of this same book of James we are reading. He promises wisdom to all who ask it from God, who will give wisdom without reproach. I have asked many times and I have many testimonies to show that God came through on his promise. I ask wisdom in words and deeds and rely heavily on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
But… there is wisdom that rationalizes pain and injustice in our understanding. To be able to understand this, we have to go back to the words of Jesus. He tells a story. (Matthew 20)
A certain owner of a vineyard went out to hire labourers to tend to his vines. He agreed with them on a wage for the day. By lunch time and after lunch he went out and hired some more labourers. Even close to the evening and within the hour that work would cease, he hired a few more. His motive for doing so, could be sympathy with unemployment as he says:
Why have you been standing here idle all day? He might have thought that they could not afford food without earning something for the day.
At the end of the working day he called all the labourers together and paid them according to the agreement made with them. The labourers who were hired early in the morning had great expectations to be paid more than agreed upon as they have worked so much more. When their expectations are disappointed, they complain. The landowner answers:
‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?
Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.
Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’
How do you handle favour upon somebody else’s life? Can you follow your Master and believe that He is just and righteous? Is your eye good?
It is impossible to journey through life without offence. It is therefore vital that we handle the envy, bitterness and anger that sub-consciously make our life miserable and darken our understanding. Jesus said it:
It is impossible that no offences should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! (Luke 17:1)
The Greek word for offence is skandalon. It denotes a baited trap. Offence is a snare planned in hell to hurt you and keep you in the bondage of your pain. It is injustice in your life that makes your soul bleed. Soul wounds can only heal under the loving hand of Jesus. It is in the safety of his presence where you are restored.
Think in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of bitterness in your soul.
Be wise with heavenly wisdom. James says it:
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits… noble words with comprehensive life-application. It is worth it to think upon it some more.