True Wisdom

What is a good understanding of wisdom? The Cambridge dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments.”

It should not surprise us that James has a definition of wisdom in his letter. According to him, wisdom involves behavior that resembles the way Jesus lived his life.

Who is wise and knowledgeable among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom (James 3.13).

What wisdom is not.

A good way to understand true wisdom is to examine what does not qualify as wisdom.

But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be arrogant and lie about the truth.

This is not wisdom that comes 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 (James 3.14-16).

Some people may appear to be wise, but if they are arrogant, envious, deceptive, and full of selfish ambition, then they don’t qualify as wise.

Such unwise behavior creates disorder and wickedness because it stems from the world’s system and demonic forces.

Intelligent humans may devise fearful weapons of war, but the destructive nature of war reveals the profound lack of wisdom in this behavior.

How much pain is experienced in the world because of intelligent people, who fail to measure up to James’ standard of wisdom!

The positive nature of wisdom

Against the background of false wisdom, James describes its true nature.

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 the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3.17-18).

True wisdom reflects the character of Jesus. I often quote Dallas Willard’s expression, living a Jesus-kind-of-life.

When we live like Jesus, we will be wise. Our wisdom will be demonstrated by the qualities mentioned in verse 17.

My attention is drawn to the qualities of wisdom that make us “willing to yield” and “without a trace of humility.”

Our world is in desperate need of wise leaders who are not arrogant and are filled with selfish ambition.

We need leaders who are humble and willing to yield for the greater good of the people they serve.

May we be those people and may we pray for God to raise up leaders who have the wise qualities that James advocates.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please email your prayer request to The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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