Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. (James 3:17-18)
Stop for just a moment and consider just how hard it is for two to walk in agreement. There will always be differences in how we think - it is part of who we are and what we have experienced in life. We don't all 'think alike', regardless of how similarly we have been raised, studied, or been through challenges in life. We all face those opportunities differently because God made us each unique human beings, capable of independent thought and 'adaptive' behavior.
It is quite possible you will associate with that phrase 'hot one day and cold the next' as we see in this passage. I can run hot and cold on a variety of topics. Catch me in a mood where my clothes are fitting a little snugger than I'd like, waistband biting in a bit, and I may be very 'hot' about eating right and getting a few extra steps tracked on the Fitbit. Catch me in a moment when the hot, fresh baked bread is beckoning me to slather it with fresh butter and I am a goner! Hot one day and cold the next!
In relationships it is quite possible we run a little hot and cold, as well. We don't always give it our all, do we? There are just times when we go through the motions, but our heart really isn't in it. There are also those times when no matter the cost or effort it will take, we are there - focused, willing, and even if not able, we are doing our best to be able. Perhaps this is why God reminds us it takes more than a little bit of focus and effort to build a healthy and robust community.
If you have ever read up about Disney, you know that when the 'characters' are 'on stage', they always have to represent the 'feel' of magic in the air. They must be 'in character' - feeling it or not - it is an expectation. Imagine Mickey dragging his feet, shoulders slumped forward, and his head hung down. Would that be the image Disney wanted displayed at the 'happiest place on earth'? You know it isn't, so the characters have to 'put aside' their real 'burdens' and assume their 'character role' with commitment to his principles of always 'being in character'.
In day to day community we are not just 'in character', though. We get 'real' with each other - or at least that is how God wants it to be. When we get 'real' with each other, we can come across 'testy' or 'jubilant' - hot and cold, you might say. We must extend grace at times, while it is us who will need that exact grace at another time. Community isn't easily established and it is far easier to lose the sense and purpose of communing with each other than one might imagine. So, we must invest ourselves in it - work to keep it - treating each other with dignity and honor.
Dignity - with decency and respect. Honor - in fairness, honesty, and integrity. Those are pretty 'high standards' required for community to be strong and vibrantly growing, aren't they? Are they possible? Yes, if we make the investment to be more than just 'in character' - getting real with each other and supporting one another through hot and cold seasons in those relationships. Just sayin!