Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish plotting. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats. (James 3:13)
Boast if you must, but do it with a heart totally in love with Christ and your boasts will not be about yourself - they will be about the good things God has done in your life! As we stop for a moment together today to consider the Word of God, can we focus on one portion of this passage together? I would like us to consider the words - "Its the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts." The way you live - your actions. The way you talk doesn't always equal your walk, does it? Some of us talk one ay, but walk another. Why is there this incongruency in the two? Could it be there is a root of pride at work in many today that causes the tremendous distance between how we talk and walk?
Pride isn't always a bad thing - if I take pride in my appearance or health - does that make me prideful? No, it just means I want to shower regularly so I don't have a body odor that drives others away, comb my hair so there aren't rats and snarls in there, wear clean clothing that more or less goes well together, and keep myself in a generally good shape so I don't have unnecessary physical issues. There is a 'good' form of pride that isn't a bad thing at all. There is also a very 'bad' form of pride that gets us into so much trouble if we let it! That 'bad' form of pride is what actually causes us to live a life that doesn't afford a 'match' between talking and walking.
The bad form of pride? We might see it best exemplified in what our passage references as animal cunning - that willingness to plot and plan in order to get ahead, be noticed, be 'on top' in this world. Our passage also reveals the exact opposite of this manner of living - live wisely, live well, and live humbly. Living wisely by embracing the teachings of Christ - allowing them to change the motivations of our heart. Live well by actually doing what we are told to do - not just hearing and then walking away unchanged. Live humbly - to live wisely and well we absolutely cannot forget the importance of humility.
Humility allows us to see the error of our actions - the place where our words and actions are 'mismatched'. Humility causes us to reach out to God to help us overcome this distance between the two. Humility affords us the opportunity to grow, while pride just causes us to bring more and more death into our lives. Some see humility as a hard thing to achieve, but do you know what is at the root of humility? The willingness to submit to the leadership of another - Christ. To truly live humbly, we submit to the teachings of Christ, allowing them to change the way we live AND talk - so both are aligned. Just sayin!