But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:17 NASB
Gentle – When I arrived at Trinity College, Oxford as a graduate student, I was invited to dinner with the president of the college. I assumed that this was a formal “meet and greet” occasion for all incoming new students. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the president’s home to discover that the dinner was for six – two Nobel laureates and their wives and me and my wife. It was one of the most interesting and gracious dinners I have ever had. That’s when I discovered something quite special about Oxford. The faculty at Oxford are gracious because they have nothing to prove. They are already the best in the world. They have what James would call epieikes, gentleness expressed from a position of full power and authority.
Paul uses this same word to describe the “meekness” of the Messiah (2 Corinthians 10:1). The translation belies the real impact. Yeshua HaMashiach is epieikes because He has the full power and authority of God Himself. He has nothing to prove. It all belongs to Him.
I wonder if we understand what this means for us. Do we spend effort proving our faith to others? Are we caught in the endless battles of proof texts and theological arguments? Do we feel assailed on all sides by critics? If James has anything to say about this, he would tell us to stop the nonsense. We have nothing to prove. That godly wisdom from above which is shown in moral and ritual purity, which is exhibited in the continual conversation with the Father, requires no other justification. We are children of the One to whom all authority has been given. What do we have to prove?
Peter addresses those women who were so anxious to have their disobedient husbands come to the truth that they couldn’t stop insisting on change. In gentleness, he tells them to stop talking. The “proof” is in the pudding. Live it and let it be. Did Yeshua enter into theological arguments with His detractors? Did He give Scriptural justifications? Or did He simply state the claim and note that those with ears would hear and the rest would not. There is a world of difference between genuine inquiry and the demand for validation. Knowing the difference is part of godly wisdom.
The community that honors Yeshua as the first-fruits of righteousness is unconcerned about the rhetoric of justification. “Go and report to John the things that you hear and see,” said Yeshua to John’s talmidim. The actions speak for themselves. Gentleness is not argument. It is the action of righteousness seen by men.
If the talmidim show up at your door and ask, “Are you the one or should we look for another?” what will you tell them? Will you tell them to go report what they hear and see in your life? Will that report be enough to prove your claim to be His disciple?
Topical Index: gentle, epieikes, authority, proof, James 3:17