“If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth” (James 3:14).
Humility is the hallmark of a wise person.
James says that if a person has a self-centered motive for life, he should stop arrogantly boasting. He should stop claiming to possess true wisdom. Why? Because he is lying “against the truth.” In verse 13 James indicates that if a person claims to have God’s wisdom, he must show it. If I see you are motivated by self-centeredness and pride, you ought to stop your arrogant boasting about having the wisdom of God. The fact is, you’re lying against what is obviously true. Stop claiming to have what you don’t have.
“The truth” refers to the saving gospel. Both James 1:18 (“In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth”) and James 5:19 (“If any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back . . .”) link the truth with the gospel. Anyone who claims to have the wisdom of God but lives a life motivated by “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” is obviously lying in the face of the gospel. No pretentious claims to a possession of divine wisdom are convincing when they come out of a heart totally motivated by human wisdom.
James is calling you to take an inventory of your heart. Take a look at yourself. What motivates you? Are you motivated by the things that honor God? Are you motivated by a love for others? Are you motivated by humility and unselfishness? There is no single characteristic of unredeemed man more obvious than his pride. And there is nothing more characteristically evident of a redeemed person than his humility.
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God to help you have a humble attitude and make you more aware of how you can serve Him and others every day.
For Further Study
• The wise person seeks to be humble. To help you manifest humility in your life, meditate on the following verses: Proverbs 16:19; 22:4; Isaiah 57:15; Micah 6:8; Matthew 18:4; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5.
• Memorize at least one Old Testament verse and one New Testament verse from this list.
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187