Just before Easter 2018, a terrorist entered a supermarket in Trèbes, France, killing two people and taking a third woman hostage. When efforts to free the woman failed, policeman Arnaud Beltrame made the terrorist an offer: release the woman and take him instead.
Arnaud’s offer was shocking because it went against the popular wisdom of our day. You can always tell a culture’s “wisdom” by the sayings it celebrates, like the celebrity quotes that get posted on social media. “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams,” one popular quote reads. “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line,” says another. “Do what you have to do, for you,” states a third. Had Arnaud followed such advice, he’d have put himself first and run.
The apostle James says there are two kinds of wisdom in the world: one “earthly,” another “heavenly.” The first is marked by selfish ambition and disorder (James 3:14–16); the second, by humility, submission, and peacemaking (vv. 13, 17–18). Earthly wisdom puts self first. Heavenly wisdom favors others, leading to a life of humble deeds (v. 13).
The terrorist accepted Arnaud’s offer. The hostage was released, Arnaud was shot, and that Easter the world witnessed an innocent man dying for someone else.
Heavenly wisdom leads to humble deeds because it places God above self (Proverbs 9:10). Which wisdom are you following today?