James wrote very frankly about characteristics that are in direct conflict with godly wisdom. (Read James 3:14.) Jealousy and contentiousness are fleshly traits, not spiritual ones. Consider what occurs when fleshly thinking prevails. Six “Christian” groups control parts of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, supposedly built where Jesus was put to death and buried. Their relationship has been one of ongoing contention. In 2006, Time magazine told of an earlier situation when monks there “brawled for hours, . . . clubbing each other with giant candlestick holders.” So great is their distrust of one another that the key to the church is entrusted to a Muslim.
Such extreme displays of contentiousness should certainly not be found in the true Christian congregation. Nevertheless, imperfections have at times caused some to manifest a stubbornness for their own views. That could lead to a degree of quarreling and strife. The apostle Paul noticed this in the congregation at Corinth, so he wrote: “Whereas there are jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and are you not walking as men do?” (1 Cor. 3:3)
Granted, there are other ways that a similar attitude could appear. But whatever situation develops, we must work to avoid such traits. (Read James 3:15, 16.) The disciple James called such attitudes “earthly” because they are fleshly, devoid of spirituality. They are “animal” in that they are the product of fleshly inclinations, similar to characteristics of unreasoning creatures. Such attitudes are “demonic,” for they reflect the disposition of God’s spirit enemies. How unfitting for a Christian to display those characteristics!