We’ve been studying the book of James on Sunday Mornings at Gages Lake. We just finished the third chapter on Sunday. The last section of this chapter gives a very specific definition of spiritual maturity. James tells us what it isn’t and what it is. I found it interesting that James was very specific in saying that someone who is always controversial, whose life is followed continually with strife–this is not a spiritual man. Now, of course, the gospel is inherently controversial. And even the most winsome Christians will encounter opposition at sometime in their lives. But a man or woman of God should not be someone who intentionally stirs the pot in order to bring attention to themselves. This, Jams says, is not wisdom from above, but a produce of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Now isn’t that interesting? Because often Christians spin their behavior as being spiritual. Leaders who browbeat people into submission and routinely step on others, this is papered over as “good, firm leadership.” Really? James says, “No, this isn’t wisdom. This is sin.” Some Christians literally feel they have the spiritual gift of controversy.
What is wisdom? Among the attributes James describes in chapter three is reasonableness. Sometimes translations render it “moderation” or “restraint.” It’s the simple attitude of being nice and easy to get along with. Now you’d think this would be natural for Christians, but James, a first-century pastor, knew it wasn’t. Actually sometimes it is Christians who are the crankiest people. They are not fun to be with. Sometimes Christian leaders are the people you’d least want to be around.