Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 (NASB)
My friend Larry pointed this verse (17 above) out to me yesterday at breakfast - well he mentioned it, and suggested that when we argue the scriptures with others to prove our points, this puts the wisdom we are arguing in question.
As I looked at this passage it convicted me regarding my use of scripture in the past. Many times I have begun from a place of pride suggesting that I have a greater knowledge of scripture than the person I am talking with, and so I must be right. I took an air of superiority and came into conversations with a distinct “you can’t tell me anything I don’t already know” attitude.
Honestly, I do have a pretty good grasp of the Bible, and some ability in navigating scripture, but as soon as I sprinkle in my arrogance and unteachable nature, I become indistinguishable from a Pharisee.
Look at this list of dos and don’ts from the above passage. [Side bar here, look how James teaches – he makes a sandwich of the truth. Some things to do – some really bad stuff to avoid – and the results of the good stuff if you will embrace it! Good method of correction.]
- Wisdom is DEMONSTRATED in our lives by good behavior! (Head knowledge – Who really cares what you know if it doesn’t translate to who you are? [Tweet This])
- Wisdom is GENTLE. (I have been guilty of wielding what I thought was wisdom like a battle-axe.)
- Bitter Jealousy
- Selfish Ambition (Yep – for sure I have used my version of wisdom to make myself look good. Also note that he tags it with “in your heart” which tells me this is not just your demeanor, but the “why” underlying your approach to wisdom.)
- Arrogant (This one hurts me deeply, as I ponder some conversations I have had in the past. The verse says that when we approach wisdom with arrogance, we lie against the truth.)
Bad Wisdom is:
- Demonic (Wow)
Bad Wisdom leads to:
- EVERY EVIL THING (that is pretty bad!)
The Character of the GOOD wisdom:
- Full of Mercy and Good Fruit (I like good fruit)
- Without Hypocrisy
- Sown in Peace by Peacemakers
So check out the character of good wisdom! James is not playing around here. This is quite a description. In order for God’s wisdom to be well represented we must strive to walk in this character. Pure heart, not looking to advance ourselves, but those we counsel, in a spirit of peace, not discord, gentle, not on the attack, reasonable, not driven by dogma, merciful and fruitful, not wishy-washy, no play acting, and pressing for peace.
Thanks for reading today.