Devotional – Rules…and Wisdom

2 Timothy 2:5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

This verse is kind of a side note for today – but I had to put it in here. I get a lot of grief for being competitive, clarifying the rules and expecting everyone to play by the established understood guidelines. In life, in sports, games – whatever. I want to know what the rules are, and I want everyone to be playing by those rules. Cheaters drive me nuts. Seriously. Absolutely crazy. I do not understand why on earth you would cheat to be the winner. What exactly did you win, if you cheated? I have always said that winning is worthless if you didn’t get there honestly. I learned that lesson after I cheated to win when playing “Sweet Valley High” with my sisters in 7th grade. Yeah sure I made it to the dance and had my boyfriend in tow…but I felt like a total loser because I knew I cheated. And now look – I found in my devotional reading today this verse that totally backs me up. Hooray. Now, on to the real guts of what God taught me today.

James 3:13-16 (MSG) Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

Talk is cheap. Saying one thing and demonstrating another makes it pretty clear which is how you really are. It’s not the words. It’s the actions. Really, all I want in relationships is honesty. If you don’t like me, don’t want me to be involved in your life – just tell me that. I don’t need to waste my time marionetting pretend interactions with people who don’t actually give a flying rip about how I feel.

I love these verses from James. Usually I don’t dig the Message version of things…it’s a little too loose for me – but in this case, I think it tells it like it is. The couple of verses after tell me how to handle it when people are twisting the truth, trying to make themselves look better and get the better of me.

James 2:17-18 Where jealousy and selfishness are, there will be confusion and every kind of evil. But the wisdom that comes from God is first of all pure, then peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help those who are troubled and to do good for others. It is always fair and honest.

Peaceful, gentle and easy to please are not natural tendencies for me. But the Bible says that’s real wisdom from God. If there’s confusion, selfishness and jealousy – that’s the opposite of Godly. So, where do I start on the path to wisdom? I guess it’s recognizing that whatever is said doesn’t matter. The proof is in the pudding. How I live is a demonstration of allowing God’s wisdom into my life. Responding in like manner when faced with selfishness, boasting, and truth-twisting is not wise. It’s not of the Lord. Regardless of that I want to prove how much better I could play those games, I need to allow God’s purity and peace to fill me with a gentle answer. A willingness to be considerate and full of mercy. Not harboring resentment – but recognizing evil for what it is, taking it to the Lord, and allowing Him to fill me with the wisdom to deal properly with the situation.  It’s never easy, and it is certainly not what I really want to do, but it is wise. And that’s what I want to be.

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