Category Archives: James

Black & White

b&WThere are infinite possibilities when it comes to mixing colours. With all these possible combinations, my personal preference as an aspiriing artist is to do a lot of work in black and white. For me, I appreciate the simple contrast between these obvious opposites; black representing the complete absence of white, and white representing itself as brilliant and pure, free of any black.

James asks an interesting question in his letter to God’s people, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” (3:13). To fully grasp the scope of what James is asking, we need to understand the truth about how the bible defines “wise”. Thankfully James helps us with this by including these words in his letter, “Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. (3:13-16) In essence, what James is saying is those who are wise should demonstrate their wisdom in how they live, by deeds done with an attitude of humility. We as believers demonstrate wisdom if our deeds reflect God’s commands.

You can now begin to see a contrast between two types of wisdom. James continues in his letter giving these words of truth, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (3:17). Pure and void of any darkness, this selfless and humble wisdom is filled with the characteristics of our great God. Each of these things stand in contrast of the way the world defines its wisdom. When we live out these virtues or characteristics in our own lives, when we show greater concern for others then for ourselves (this is what James would call a “good life”) we bring glory and honour to God. The good fruit that James writes about here parallels the words of Paul in his letter to the Galatians, this is where he describes for us the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. A good life lived in accordance to God’s will is evidence that we are wise and understanding. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we as believers will stand as wise in contrast to the “wisdom” of the world.

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A Gold Standard

400-oz-Gold-Bars-AB-01

If you look closely at the image you can see stamped in each bar of gold the number 999.9. This number represents the measure of purity of the gold which can also be read as 99.9%. When I consider its weight, it’s value and the process of refining to get to that high measure of purity I have to ask these questions: “Why not 100%”? “What is it that binds to this natural element that holds is back from perfection?” A quick search online will tell you that the 0.1% is comprised of other metals that give the gold strength and uniformity in shape.

The book of James carries a lot of weight when it comes to practical instructions for holy living. We read about facing trials and temptations, listening and doing, faith and deeds, submitting to God and many other valuable lessons. When we consider the holiness of God and living a life that reflects that holiness we have to have a measure to stand against, James 3:17 helps put that into perspective: “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” The degree of purity that James refers to is that of 100%, a purity of wisdom that is unmatched on this side of heaven. In the previous verses James use some very strong words to describe any wisdom that does not come from heaven. In the light of this pure and holy wisdom flows the instruction to us today to live as James describes, peace loving, considerate etc.

You can’t add anything to 100%, it is the fullness of itself. As hard as it might be because of who we are and because we live in a fallen world, there will always be a percentage of vulnerable space in how we live and act in this life. Instead of mercy we may offer up revenge or harshness, in place of being considerate we may be disrespectful or impatient. James tells us to “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (1:21). The beautiful part about this challenge is we don’t have to do it alone, we have a God who leads and guides us. We, like the gold need more than just our own strength to live a holy life, we need a God who is full of mercy and grace. As His church and His people we need each other, and to me that is worth more than gold.

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