I’ve been attending services at the Mt. Arahat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, where Rev. Dr. William H. Curtis is pastor. I am drawn to the universal messages of service, humility, grace, compassion, and so forth. I find if you replace the words God or Jesus with destiny and/or karma, the message is the same as those advanced in Jainism.

One day, the service was on James 3:13. The passage reads as follows:

James 3:13
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

The pastor asked the congregation, if you could ask God for just one gift right now, what would you ask for? He said he would ask for wisdom. (Or did he say James asked for wisdom? I can’t remember. Either way, instead of riches, good health, beauty or strength, what would be asked for would be wisdom).

The pastor then went on to describe the effects of wisdom. One of the characteristics of wisdom is how it alters your behavior for the long haul, and not just over the short run. One who is wise demonstrates wise and humble attributes that are typical of them as a person, not just a momentary display of humility. Another sign of wisdom is the ability to do favors for others – for people who cannot do favors for me – because I acknowledge that I am full of good favor that God has given to me.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m plagued by the comparison bug, always comparing myself to others — characteristics, accomplishments, and so on. So, the bit I liked best was when the pastor mentioned that if one has wisdom, then there is no bitter jealousy. One realizes that God has blessed others with certain attributes and gifts, and with wisdom, one cannot be jealous of the benefits God has given to someone else.

And that is a great lesson to start 2013 — Happy New Year!