As we continue to read and teach through the book of James, I am constantly challenged to take a look at my life and step up and learn from the convicting messages James was trying to teach us. Remember, this was written more than 2,000 years ago, but is still relevant today. James was the brother of Jesus. I believe James could probably say that the wisest person he ever knew was his own brother.
Who is the wisest person you know?
Did someone pop into your head immediately or did you draw a blank?
Dictionary.com defines wise as: “Having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.”
Similar to this definition is that of smart: “Having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability, shrewd or sharp, as a person in dealing with others or as in business dealings.”
When we think of someone who is wise we envision someone who is intelligent and makes good decisions.
Let’s read what James has to say about wisdom, beginning in chapter 2, verse 13.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”James 2:13 (NIV)
When I consider friends and family and even acquaintances, two things come to mind.
One is the man who protects and provides for his family, is successful in business, and for him and his family materialism is of the greatest importance.
The second wise person I imagine is a man who protects and provides for his family, is a man of God, and for him and his family serving the Lord is of the greatest importance.
There are two kinds of wisdom according to James: One is worldly and one is godly. My husband is a wise man, and according to him there really is only godly wisdom; the rest is foolishness.Worldly wisdom is described in verses 14-16:
“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 2:14-16 (NIV)
When we think about the first man mentioned above, his worldly wisdom actually is not wise at all. He is searching for worldly gain, what James calls “selfish ambition,” which longs for more and more until eventually the focus becomes money and earthly pleasures that can lead to chaotic disorder.
Matthew instructs us that,
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
When we neglect the teachings of God’s Word and become more centered on what the world can give us, we are headed for trouble. Anything that becomes more important to us than God is breaking the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3 (NIV)
So, as a follower of Christ, what do we need to do to find the godly wisdom that only God gives?
We look to heaven because wisdom comes from God and God alone:
“But 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. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18-19 (NIV)
What does godly wisdom look like?
Remember the second man mentioned above? He provides for and protects his family. This is a man of God. He serves the Lord out of his love for God.
This wisdom is available not only to men, but to women as well.
Verse 18 and 19 give us several attributes of God that we should seek to add to our lives. They are:
- Full of mercy
- Good fruit
Day after day we are given choices. We can choose to look through the lenses of godly wisdom to make good ones that lead us to the “good life” James mentions in verse 13. It is available.
When looking at this list, what is one attribute that we can pray for God to increase in your life? Please leave us a comment.
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