James 1:17-27 (NRSV)
Verse 17Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Verse 18In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
Verse 19You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; Verse 20for your anger does not produce God's righteousness. Verse 21Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. Verse 22But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. Verse 23For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; Verse 24for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. Verse 25But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act-they will be blessed in their doing. Verse 26If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Verse 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
The readings for this week share in their reflections on God’s gift of wisdom. In the next several weeks we will be reading the epistle of James and hearing about wisdom as that “perfect gift of God.” In the gift of wisdom we experience God’s generosity in creation as consistent and purposive. Through the ways we make use of wisdom to live whole lives God is making good on God’s investment in us. It is indeed an “implanted word” which has power to enable us to be both hearers and doers—as the psalmist says, to be ones whose words and actions are in harmony. Most importantly, when our words and actions are in harmony, it is our neighbors who benefit. For when we know who we are, the gifted children of God’s creation, our hearing and doing come together and conform in care and service for those most in need of our love.
God of Wisdom, continue to mold and shape us by your perfect gift and purpose, that we may be shaped in such a way that our hearing and doing conform, and that our lives may ring true in love and service to our neighbor. Amen.