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Ungodly Feelings

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.”— James 3:13-14

In our passage James speaks to two groups of people, he speaks 1. to the wise and understanding and 2. to the jealous and ambitious. To the wise, he commands them to show their works in the “meekness of wisdom,” or simply put: be humble. To the jealous, he commands “do not boast and be false to the truth.”

What Is interesting about this verse is that the apostle does not command the jealous and ambitious to stop. This makes sense because there are some feelings that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot stop. And ambition is not necessarily bad, but it is bad when it is in direct competition with a brother/sister.

Instead, the apostle advises them on how they should respond to their ungodly feelings should they find themselves in that situation. Instead of reacting in an ungodly way, we should “not boast and be false to the truth.” I like how the NIV put it, “But suppose your hearts are jealous and bitter. Suppose you are concerned only about getting ahead. Then don’t brag about it. And don’t say no to the truth.”

While this text is very specific, the principle of James' wisdom can be applied to all aspects of life: Christians must respond in a Godly way to their ungodly feelings. We may not be able to control how we feel, but we can control how we react. As James concludes, “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

Lord, give me the wisdom to respond in a godly way to my ungodly feelings.


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