There are many people considered wise among men – with academics and chairs of philosophy, a type of sign-board hung out to show the apparent abode of wisdom. That is what impresses other people, but not God.
Yet even for true Christians, there is much more to wisdom than they normally think about. God’s instruction in James 1 state:. If any man lacks wisdom, he is to ask God for it; and, believing, he shall receive it. A lack of wisdom can cause many serious mistakes.
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (Jam. 3:13).
Notice that godly wisdom is entwined with knowledge. Why? The connection may be found in Proverbs 9:10, which tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. This we could call “cosmic wisdom”—wisdom that originates from the cosmos. It has to come from God’s own mind to allow our choices and processes to mean anything beyond what affects our immediate physical life. This may be bridged back again to our own behaviour:
“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:14-15).
Devilish wisdom comes from the devil; from this earth. True wisdom is a gift from God. It takes wisdom to know what to do when God denies you something you earnestly desire, or how to navigate our fiery trials, for example.
James has the best definition of wisdom in the Bible, listing seven items that are outgrowths of godly wisdom: “But the wisdom that is from above is first:
- easy to be entreated
- full of mercy and good fruits
- without partiality
- without hypocrisy.
“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (verses 17-18).
Here are the meanings of these seven outgrowths of wisdom:
- Pure – means it is free from earthly, sensual, diabolical thoughts or motives. It must be free from guile, like Nathanael (John 1:47). We must have a pure motive. When we are being led by God’s Spirit, we are not calculating—trying to take advantage of the other person or to get something from them. We must be pure, and simply give as our heavenly Father gives! If we speak words of wisdom, we bring joy and encouragement. Our tongue produces spiritual honey.
- Peaceable – it makes peace with others, especially within the family.
- Gentle – meaning forbearing—not demanding, and not looking down on others.
- Easy to be entreated – or persuaded. It is happy to give in if the other person is right.
- Full of mercy and good fruits – toward the misery of others—desiring to relieve them.
- Without partiality – it is not swayed by self-interest, worldly honor or the fear of man. If Jacob, who favored Joseph over his other sons, had had this quality, the tragic problems wouldn’t have existed between Joseph and his brothers, and it would have changed the course of Israel’s history!
- Without hypocrisy — what you see is what you get. It doesn’t pretend to be something it is not. It requires wisdom to present yourself as someone who is trying to grow and improve, yet who never tries to come across as someone you are not.
“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (verse 18). The fruit of this righteousness will produce peace wherever we go. If any of you lack wisdom, go to God, and He will give it to you!
Study and learn what God’s wisdom will do in your life. If you understand it, you will be praying for more of a replenished supply of “the wisdom that is from above.”