James 3:17 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Our world is in dire need of wisdom. We survive off fragments of information, distorted by the perspectives of those who spout them. Truth is treated as a variable, dependent on the situation, rather than an absolute to guide our thinking and our walk. Our knowledge is overflowing, but we struggle to know what to do with the avalanche of information that overwhelms us each day. The appropriate use of knowledge is guided by wisdom, but what does wisdom look like?
According to James 3:17, wisdom is pure – untainted by the whims of human flesh and the foibles of mankind. It comes from God, and it is characterized, at least partially, by what is missing from it – no envying or strife. In other words, wisdom is not about making me look good or getting my own way. It doesn’t seek harm for others. Wisdom from God focuses on the good, the right, the righteous. Philippians 4:8
Wisdom is peaceable. It doesn’t look for an argument or an opening in the conversation into which it can insert itself. Wisdom allows time for thought and is not combative in nature. It does not seek to prove a point, because it is the point.
Wisdom is gentle. The correction it brings is offered with love and seeks the best for the other. It works to encourage rather than tear down.
Wisdom is easy to be entreated or to reason with. It doesn’t put up fences of self-preservation and defensiveness, because it relies on truth. Given truth, wisdom sits up and pays attention.
Wisdom is full of mercy and good fruits. A person operating in wisdom won’t be found hiding in darkness. Instead he will be open and generous, looking to serve.
Wisdom is without partiality. It serves everyone. There is no preferential treatment or one-up-man-ship with wisdom.
Wisdom is without hypocrisy. What you see is what you get…today, tomorrow, whenever. It works without pretense. Wisdom does not consider political correctness, or the ‘right’, or the ‘left’; wisdom operates in truth, unfettered by the interpretation of current trends.
When you look at the characteristics of wisdom, they look a lot like the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
That’s because wisdom comes only from God. We can’t learn it in a university or through an online course. It grows in our lives as we yield our will and our thoughts to the truth of the word of God.
The good news is that wisdom is free. Do you need wisdom? Check out James 1:5, 6 – 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
God wants us to have the wisdom we need to navigate the hard places of this life. We look for it in self-help books and talk shows. He says, “Ask Me. I will give it to you.” The one condition that He gives is that we ask in faith. If we read the rest of the book of James, we find that faith results in works. In other words, when we ask in faith, we are asking with the intention of acting on the wisdom that God provides.
I think about that old commercial “Got Milk?” when I read James 1. I look at my life and ask, “Got Wisdom?” James tells me what wisdom looks like, so that I can evaluate the characteristics in my life.
Are you in need of wisdom in the situations you face today?
God has an unlimited supply. Just ask.