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  • Shawn Thornton

When Wisdom Prevails

Wednesday - February 17th

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 3:13-18


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.

James 3:17

In recent years, presidents have used executive orders to make changes to federal government policies and practices that they might not be able to pass through the legislative process. The opposition party often takes the president to court to challenge their power to make such sweeping changes. The controversy started long before our time and will not end with us.

In 1906, U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt tried to get the government to simplify the spelling of 300 common English words through what we would call today an executive order. He felt the spelling of many words needed to be changed to make them "less foolish and fantastic." However, this didn't go over well with Congress or the public.

With the assistance of leading voices like Andrew Carnegie and Mark Twain, the Simplified Spelling Commission was created. It included notable intellectuals, American authors (such as Twain), a Supreme Court Justice, and college presidents. Like Roosevelt, wealthy business tycoon, Andrew Carnegie, was convinced that English could be a universal language used worldwide if it was easier to read and write. To tackle this problem, Carnegie decided to fund the Simplified Spelling Commission.

The commission mainly tackled the old British spelling of certain words. "Colour" would become "color." "Civilisation" would be changed to "civilization." When the list was released and began to be adopted by academia and publishing companies, President Rosevelt said, "Wisdom has prevailed." Maybe it was just in Teddy Roosevelt's nature to summarize things as if they were a victory or defeat on the battlefield. But, to him, wisdom had won the war of words.

While I am not sure over what wisdom had prevailed, it is interesting that Rosevelt chose to say it was wisdom that had won the day. The spelling commission was not working with scientific facts. It took nuanced judgment and thought to reach their conclusions. It did indeed take wisdom.

Does wisdom fight battles to prevail over its enemies? Is it rude and ungracious? After describing wisdom from above as pure, the New Testament Book of James then describes heavenly wisdom as "peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17). Those qualities do not describe a war being won. Wisdom from above is described in the following verse as a "peacemaker."

I am not sure how intense the war of words (and their spelling) was in Roosevelt's day. But, wisdom from God never causes trouble; it brings peace. Wisdom doesn't prevail by the sword but by its insightful application of knowledge.

As you look at your own life, does the wisdom you exercise bring peace into the lives of others. Or, does the kind of wisdom you use in life cause trouble. Try memorizing James 3:17 and ask God to remind you of the qualities of heavenly wisdom as you move through your day!

Earthly wisdom may bring conflict and strife, but when heavenly wisdom prevails, it brings peace.


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