“Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 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. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”
~ James 3.13-18, New Revised Standard Version
Race makes us think that we know it all and that we know it all about the people around us. Even more frightening, race makes us think that we have figured out God, that we can determine whose side God is on and/or who is on God’s side. But, the wisdom that race provides, the understanding that we believe ourselves to gain about the self, others, God and the world is not from above. James, the half brother of Jesus, who describes himself not in these terms but as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” describes two types of wisdom (1.1). There is the wisdom that is from above and then there is wisdom that is of the earth, deemed unspiritual (or “sensual”, HCSB), and even devilish (or “demonic”, HCSB).
I surmise that the wisdom of race is of the earth because it does not possess the characteristics of the wisdom that is from above. Instead, this description of earthly wisdom reads like the mission statement of race’s wisdom as it produces bitter envy, selfish ambition, disorder and every kind of wickedness or evil. Contrarily, this wisdom that race gives us is not: “pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield or compliant, full or mercy or good fruits.” This wisdom is partial or expresses favoritism and is hypocritical.
Race’s wisdom does not make for peace or bring peace to us and it does not make us peacemakers. What war has race brought an end to? What of our inner strivings have ceased because of the wisdom of race? Show me by its good life that the works of race have been done in gentleness due to its wisdom. Such a life does not exist. No, race is but “a lie against the truth” (v. 14, HCSB) and if we believe in its wisdom, then we too possess a wisdom that is not from above.