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Friday, March 17, 2017

A Lenten Healing: 40 Graces for Forgiveness (Day 15: Wisdom)

I’ve been trying to pull out scripture references for this study that aren’t exactly what you’d expect—not the same old things you’ve heard a thousand times since you memorized them in Sunday school at nine years old (if you were a Sunday school kid back then). But today’s verse is always what comes to mind when I think of wisdom.
The first time I remember reading this passage I was in high school. I read the Bible every night before I went to bed—had I kept that practice through college, those years might’ve unfolded with more spiritual health than they did—and I came across these words in James which juxtapose worldly wisdom (jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder, and every vile practice) against godly wisdom (see today’s Scripture below). I recognized myself in the former list. Since then I’ve tried to cultivate godly wisdom in my life, and reject worldly wisdom. (Except maybe during college. And a few years after. And occasionally nowadays... Ahem.)
One unfortunate result of seeking godly wisdom is that I constantly want to say, “I told you so.”
Honestly, I feel like Cassandra much of the time. She’s the woman in Greek mythology who was granted the gift of prophecy, then cursed that no one would ever believe her.
“Don’t do that, honey. You’re going to fall and hurt yourself.”
“No, I won’t!”
And, we’re at Urgent Care. Again.
If my “prophecies” were all that (relatively) benign, the need for forgiveness probably wouldn’t figure into them. But when I’ve prayed about something, searched the Bible for wisdom, consulted trusted counselors, and then had my input to a situation ignored or rejected, it’s a challenge to manifest any empathy or mercy when the results of someone else’s dubious decision-making go south.
This one’s tough. In many places in my life I struggle to forgive because I am/was the one in the wrong. But when I’m right? And the other guy hosed it up? (And maybe even manages to blame me for it somehow? “Why didn’t you stop me?!?” Growl. Hold my coat, someone.)
Wisdom is pure: it’s untainted by anything outside of it. It’s peaceable: it doesn’t need to raise a ruckus over itself. It’s gentle: it seeks not to harm others. It’s open to reason: “Let’s talk about what happened there.” It’s full of mercy: it doesn’t need to exact justice. It’s full of good fruits: like those fruits of the Spirit. It’s impartial: it treats everybody the same (even the people whose relentlessly bad judgment really cheeses me off). And it’s sincere: it doesn’t have ulterior motives.
Yikes. I think I’m not nearly as heavy in wisdom as I thought.

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But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. – James 3:17

* * *

God, move me today into deeper wisdom. The kind of wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, merciful, fruitful, impartial, and sincere. Show me where my arrogance subverts your wisdom. Teach me how to be humble even when I’m right, and to humbly forgive and let go even when others march forward in arrogant wrongness. If I’m right with you, my “rights” shouldn’t matter to me, right?

40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey is now available in print. $6.49 at

With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study,40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. $6.49 at Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.

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