Yesterday's hangup came at the 3:17 marker. It stayed with me most of the day, in between phone calls and meetings.
My fascination with the verse springs from my observation that there is a perceived tension between purity and pragmatism in the church. On one hand, purity...lampooned as old fashioned and stodgy. On the other hand, pragmatism...misrepresented as liberalism and the overriding spirit of Git-r-dun.
- A purists look at everything through the lens of determining the highest good. A pragmatist want to know what yields the quickest return.
- A purist considers ideas and ideals as supreme, guiding all behavior. A pragmatist considers people supreme...believing that lofty ideas cannot stand on their own.
- A purists defends the faith at all cost and glories in becoming a martyr. A pragmatist propagates the faith at any cost and, taken to the extreme, ends up becoming a compromiser.
In spite of the natural tension between these two, they can coexist - even complement one another. Their conflict is only inevitable if we view them through a short scope. Given the lens of eternity, purity is practical. Holding fast to virtue does result in righteousness on the earth.
That being said, it's important to understand that it's not a question of what works, but determining what order they work in and why...and then working both angles.
James 3:17Whatever your project or conflict of the day is, the wisdom of God is first of all pure. Yes, it makes concessions to keep peace. It honors others and grants mercy...but all of that from a foundation of purity.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Getting things done any other way is a dangerous shortcut.