Friday, November 17, 2006

A Devotion from Laache

425. Trinity 22 - Thursday

O Lord, give us the Spirit of Your wisdom and love!

James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Because the devil's very nature is pride, we are all by nature vain, conceited, proud, and self-willed. No one is born meek and gentle. But some are wiser than others in their own eyes. When such people struggle with spiritual awakening, then God's Spirit indeed can humble them and God's chastisements can keep them humble. But in general, sooner or later they will come forward with their wisdom toward dividing the brethren. They think that only they have eyes to see the defects in society. They feel called to improve the church, and their wisdom breeds "envy and self-seeking, " tossing about from one thing to another, "confusion and every evil: thing." Such people are not easily persuaded; they know it all. They appeal to the example of our Lord Jesus, to Paul and Luther and other men of God: that they too separated themselves and established their own group. O if they knew the living spirit of fellowship of the Lord and His holy followers and if they felt the deepest pain over "being rejected," then they wouldn't accuse them of being sectarians. They say that for conscience' sake they cannot bear the breach of fellowship. What a sensitive conscience! If they took the sins of their people onto their conscience with Christ's love, they would have something to do besides cultivating bitter roots that cause confusion. "Do not boast and lie against the truth." This is no; "the wisdom that descends from above" for "that wisdom is pure," no: mixed with the devil's spirit of pride. And it is "peaceable," uniting gathering what is the Lord's, in the bond of peace. Furthermore, it is "reasonable ... gentle, willing to yield." It "gladly speaks," willingly listens to others, gives truth its right and is willing to be corrected. "1: is full of mercy and good fruits." Listen to that: "full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy," righteous, sincere, and upright. Whoever has this wisdom sows peace and reaps blessed fruit in this world and the next.

God, help us that none of us hold back from Your grace. Let no bitter root grow up and create confusion, so that many are harmed by it. Give us the wisdom from above, and let us by good behavior show our good works in wisdom's gentleness. Amen.

3. Resentment, hate, and cruel jest,
Must not be harbored in the breast
Where love and charity should dwell;
Then think and speak of others well,
Refrain from all that causes strife
And mars a truly Christian life.

4. So let your tongue, your heart, and mind
Agree to banish ev'ry kind
Of malice, falsehood, and disguise,
And here on earth a paradise
Of peace and harmony maintain,
Where concord and good will shall reign.

Kingo: How fair the Church of Christ
ELH 418:3-4
tr. O. T. (Sanden) Arneson;
tune: Melita