Scripture: James 3:13-4:12
Key verse: (4:1) Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?
Reflection: Conflicts and disputes. Watch the news, read the paper, scroll through social media. There are a lot of conflicts and disputes in our world right now. From global tensions to political posturing to personal squabbles, we face conflicts and disputes.
The writer of James offers wisdom to the early Christian community that struggled with conflict. At the end of chapter three, the writer describes two kinds of wisdom – the wisdom that is gentle, pure and peaceful vs. the wisdom that is selfish, earthly and envious. The writer is pushing us toward introspection. What kind of wisdom do we have? Are we offering gentle encouragement or are we “spouting off” answers? Are we sowing seeds of peace or are we promoting strife?
In the key verse above, at the beginning of chapter four, the writer connects the dots. Conflicts and disputes in our communities are rooted in our own internal cravings. Selfish ambition and envy cause political leaders to behave badly, co-workers to stab one another in the back, and spouses to belittle one another. James pushes us toward introspection. What is going on inside of us that provokes selfishness and envy? We are called to draw near to God with humility, trusting that God will draw near to us. When you are tempted to blame someone else for the divisions in our world or in our community, ask yourself what role you play in it and how you can be a person who sows seeds of peace. There are two kinds of wisdom and we are called to seek the wisdom that comes from drawing near to God.
Prayer: God, good beyond all that is good, fair beyond all that is fair, in you is calmness, peace and concord. Heal the dissensions that divide us from one another and bring us back to a unity of love bearing some likeness to your divine nature. Through the embrace of love and the bonds of godly affection, make us one in the Spirit by your peace which makes all things peaceful. We ask this through the grace, mercy, and tenderness of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(prayer attributed to Dionysius of Alexandra, d. 264)
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].