By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Do your words match your beliefs? I love how James asks for the wise and understanding to be identified. First, he is not necessarily asking for people to self-identify as “wise and understanding”. The way it is worded, it makes me think of the way the apostles told the early church to identify “seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). In both cases, the responsibility appears to be on the congregation to make the proper judgment.
James 3:13-14 (ESV): Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
The reason is given in the next sentence. James, inspired by the Holy Spirit wants Christians to judge situations based on the evidence. If you want to know who the smartest person at your job is, you would not ask the employees what they thought about themselves - you would ask them to name others. As you keep hearing the same name, you can be confident you found your person.
Romans 12:9-13 (ESV): Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
If someone believes he or she is a follower of Christ, how should you go about confirming this? The apostle Paul tells their love should be genuine. He then helps us understand what it means to have a genuine love. He tells us to abhor evil and cling to what is good. When someone identifies himself or herself as a follower of Christ, we should find out if they possess these traits. When we are asking others about the person, we should be trying to understand if they love others with brotherly affection, are zealous for the Lord, and show honor to others. Do they rejoice in the hope of salvation, are they patient when times get tough, and do they pray constantly? They also need to be supporting the church and looking for opportunities to be hospitable to the household of faith. To understand someone properly takes time and we should avoid making snap judgments. If we have the time to get to know someone, great; but if not, we are to see what those who know him or her say about him or her.