What Is Your Center?
Are you accidentally letting the world shape your life?
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
There is a natural tendency to miss problems in our own lives that we can easily see in the lives of others. Ambition, jealousy, insecurity, and anxiety sneak into our personality out of a subtle self-centeredness. This is the way of the world, and it can overtake our lives before we even recognize it. Our natural inclination is to put our hope in this world, but this will end in disappointment. We manipulate relationships for our own advantage, but emptiness is the inevitable result. We expect fairness from this world, but that only leads to bitterness. You and I were meant for more. How can an honest recognition of these problems lead you into a more fulfilling life?
Doers of the Word (James 1)
The book of James shows us a stark contrast between the world’s way and the way of God’s Word. We have to make sure God’s Word, and not the world, is what shapes our heart. But if we aren’t open to His inspection as the Bible uncovers our hidden inclinations, it will be the world which defines us by default. This is why James insists that we become “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)
Putting it Into Practice
How can we obey James’ instruction? Here’s an experiment you can try. For just one day, count up the time you spend getting your information from the world (watching the news, browsing the Internet, social media, and other “screen time”). Then, challenge yourself to match each minute you spent doing that with a minute spent in the Word. If you were able to do that for one day, see if you can continue this practice for the following days, as well.
This experiment may seem like an impossible task at first, given the amount of media we consume on a daily basis. But the idea is eventually we can displace a lot of the time we invest in the world with time in the Word. With this regular exposure to the Word, our natural temporal outlook will give way to an eternal one. Suddenly, we will see the anxieties that once consumed us in their proper perspective.
Two Kinds of Wisdom (James 3:13–18)
James continues to contrast the Word and the world by describing two kinds of wisdom—wisdom from above and wisdom from below. Wisdom from above is “pure,” “peaceable,” and results in good works (James 3:17). Wisdom from below, on the other hand, revolves around jealousy and selfish ambition (vv. 14–16).
Worldly wisdom can lead to nothing but division, arrogance, and folly. And our natural inclination is to subtly succumb to this kind of living. Therefore, we must allow the Word to replace the mindset of the world, and the only way to have the strength to do this is to look regularly to the Word to inform all that we hear and do in this world.
Pray this week:
God, have you been trying to show me that I have too much of a worldly center by the anxieties I’ve been feeling?
If you’re suspecting you have been fooling yourself, as James 1:22 says, why not ask for prayer and guidance from a caring volunteer now?