Day 9/January 2 Devotion

Reflection by Michael Sonnenberg, Administrative Assistant, ELCA Federal Chaplaincy Ministries & Metro D.C. Synod Council Lay Member

Do you ever think about what makes a person wise? We often have ideas on what makes someone wise. Maybe it is someone who wears glasses or someone with a head full of gray hair? Or maybe someone wise has a wall covered in framed academic degrees or is it someone with a big library at home? James challenges us to demonstrate what we claim to have. He tells us that wisdom is not purely intellectual knowledge, but it is also our associated behavior. The wisdom that comes from God will be seen in our good behavior.

James 3:13-18

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Questions to Ponder

  1. What damage can bitter envy do to you? What about selfish ambition?
  2. What kind of well-meaning advice might lead you to feeling jealous and envious?
  3. In what way can we help each other to be wise?

Silence for Reflection


Prayer Book for the Armed Services, page 57, ©Augsburg Fortress, 2013

Gracious and holy God, give us diligence to seek you, wisdom to perceive you, and patience to wait for you.  Grant us, O God, a mind to meditate on you; eyes to behold you; ears to listen for your word; a heart to love you; and a life to proclaim you; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.