Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13 ESV)
The world is desperate for people with wisdom and understanding. God has provided such people through his church.
Wisdom and understanding are partners.
- Understanding is a God-given ability to translate meaning from facts and knowledge.
- Wisdom is the careful application of knowledge to personal living as we walk with Jesus.
Wise people cannot be identified merely by proclaiming to have wisdom. Wisdom is evident by people’s lives, not their rhetoric.
How to identify people with genuine wisdom and understanding:
- People with wisdom and understanding live well—reveal good conduct.
- People with wisdom and understanding do good works.
- People with wisdom and understanding are meek (gentle). Jesus said, Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 ESV)
Meekness is a characteristic of citizens of the Kingdom of God. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5 ESV)
James warns that wisdom could be fake or true, and he instructs us to test wisdom’s authenticity.
Fake Wisdom 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3:14-16 ESV)
Fake Wisdom has a sinful motive – If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
Genuine salvation changes our hearts. From our new hearts come new motives in life. Though imperfect, our hearts long for perfection, and we are purposeful to live honorably before God and others. “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 ESV)
Fake wisdom has an ungodly source – Fake wisdom is:
Fake wisdom has unholy results - there will be disorder and every vile practice.
It is apparent by the disorder and vile practices being experienced that many national, state, and local leaders have fake wisdom. However, James is drawing attention to the possibility of fake wisdom in the church. Such people touting false wisdom are powerfully destructive. They are motivated by selfish ambition and harsh jealousy.
True Wisdom 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18 ESV)
True wisdom is sourced from heaven. It is from above.
God gives us wisdom when he saves us through Jesus. The Bible states that Jesus became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30b ESV)
The Bible, God’s word, is wisdom to us. We read it, learn it, and live it with a promise. (Matthew 7:24-27)
There is no wisdom apart from God, and no one possesses genuine wisdom without salvation in Jesus Christ.
True wisdom has the characteristics of God. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
True wisdom sows peace and produces righteousness.
How to gain wisdom and understanding from God:
- Be saved in Christ.
- Have reverence for God. (Psalm 111:10)
- Read, learn, and apply the Bible. (Psalm 119:97-100)
- Be a person of prayer. God grants wisdom to the person who prays for it. (James 1:5)
An in-depth study of the book of James.