Who is wise and understanding among you?James 3:13,17
Let them show it by their good life,
by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom….
the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
“Dear God, please give me wisdom…”
This might be the prayer I lift more than any other. We desperately need wisdom in virtually every aspect of life, don’t we? In our relationships. In our finances. In life’s decisions. Certainly in our marriages. In our places of employment. And perhaps most of all, in our parenting.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes the whole idea of “wisdom” seems sort of ambiguous. Just when I think I may have grasped it, I look down at my clutched hands to find them empty. How do we know if we’ve attained wisdom? At what point do we become wise? What does it look like?
God is so good to give us His counsel about this topic.In the passage above, He provides a checklist for godly wisdom that is beneficial for pondering and practical for applying.
Pure. Godly wisdom is completely untainted by evil. Its motives are pure, and so are its applications.
Peace-loving. There is no selfish ambition in godly wisdom. Not to be mistaken for weak convictions that yield to popular opinion, godly wisdom humbly realizes that relationships are more important than proving a point; and so it’s not compelled to make others agree.
Considerate. Godly wisdom never lords itself over others. It isn’t brash, sarcastic, or disrespectful; rather, it is gentle, kind, and thoughtful. Godly wisdom also realizes there is a time to share an opinion, and a time to refrain from sharing, based on the best interests of others.
Submissive. A person with godly wisdom is willing to consider other points of view, and will readily yield to others if there is a better or equally good alternative offered. There is no personal agenda involved.
Full of mercy and good fruit. Godly wisdom results in action. It isn’t abstract; its results are tangible. An observant person may notice that a friend’s marriage is in trouble; a wise person will prayerfully and carefully become involved in some way. Christian parents may acknowledge the value of God’s Word; wise parents will implement the Bible in their home, saturating the hearts of their children with God’s truth.
Impartial. A person with godly wisdom doesn’t play favorites based on family ties, personality preferences, religious denominations, race, class, color, or disabilities. It sees God’s truth as absolute, and recognizes that God’s love and mercy for people are without exception.
Sincere. Godly wisdom doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It has nothing to hide and is not hypocritical. There are no hidden motives cloaked by false concern.
I’ve been attending church for as long as I can remember, and so my mind has accumulated a vast treasure of biblical principles and Christian truth. But that’s not wisdom. It’s only the beginning. This passage is teaching me that there’s far more to wisdom than I ever suspected…and to be honest, it can be overwhelming. Is this something I can ever attain? Thankfully, God issues a beautiful promise in this same book (1:5):
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.James 1:5
I used to think this was a promise to be claimed in specific instances when wisdom was needed, and that I could expect to receive the “right answers” I sought. And perhaps that’s true.
But now I’m wondering whether God’s promise to give wisdom generously also refers to His commitment to the process of developing godly wisdom in His children over time.
Though I could never attain this type of wisdom on my own, my heart is hopeful that I will continue to grow in this area under the faithful instruction of our ever-patient, always-loving, infinitely wise Teacher.
Written by Jennifer Clarke