James 3: 13-18
Beloved: Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
“I can do so much, and only so much.”
(a couples’ perspective)
Lately, I have been struck with how many times a day I compare myself, or my situation in life, with someone else. Unfortunately, this is a common practice and one that rarely causes me comfort. It almost always seems “greener” when looking at someone else’s predicament—they do it better, more beautifully, easier that I can. And this comparison breeds jealousy which, James cautions, also creates “disorder”. I would agree with that both in my heart and mind.
I feel that this reading is bringing my attention to my need for humility in accepting all that I am. I can do so much, and only so much. At some point, I will confront a limitation and no matter of comparing to another person helps me in accepting this reality peacefully. Often times, I turn to my husband to help me in this way—both naming my limitations and accepting them. He is able to bring a kind and gentle eye to me and I feel that in a good marriage, this is an exceptional gift!
I love the phrase “cultivate peace”! It reminds me of working in the garden in the summertime, tilling the soil, pulling out weeds, gently watering and lovingly minding budding plants. Planting seeds is only the first step in this process. I reflected on how I cultivate peace in my own life. While I am rather far from perfect, I try to cultivate peace by being a calming presence to others—among my family and friends and co-workers and students.
Meeting anger with anger, while momentarily satisfying, does not cultivate peace. But facing anger and frustration with a kind word, a smile, a humorous quip (if appropriate) or even a simple question such as, “How are you doing today?” can diffuse a tense situation and help others feel at peace. We are offered opportunities almost daily to cultivate peace in this and other ways. May we have open minds, eyes and ears to discover where peace needs cultivating!
Who in your life reflects the type of humility you would like to emulate?
How do you cultivate peace in your life?
Carrie and David Nantais live in the city of Detroit with their two sons, Liam (almost 4 years) and Theo (5 ½ months). They are both at the University of Detroit Mercy—David as Director of University Ministry and Carrie as a PhD student in Clinical Psychology. They have been married for 5 ½ years. http://www.udmercy.edu/ministry/index.htm
Lord, you are the poetry of wordless lives, the salting of tasteless purposes, the reminder that we are more than the sinking spiral of the dying sparrow and that the reckless rush of the galaxies marvel at the human collision of a kiss. You are the tightening hope that someone has stretched a net of peacefulness beneath this high wire act of ours.