Earthly vs. Heavenly Wisdom

James 3:13-18

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I believe wisdom is one of those qualities where, if we use it to describe ourselves, it is evident we do not have it. Much like humility, wisdom is a quality that is shown, not spoken about. It isn’t evident in boasting, rather in our actions. This is James’ point in verse 13. In yet another example of what it looks like to live saved, James tells us that we portray wisdom by our actions. This wisdom could also be explained as discernment of the scriptures, acting on them intently with the love of The Spirit that lives in us. It makes sense that if we look back at the other examples of our deeds produced by faith, we can see wisdom in each example James made.

We learn here, ironically, the wisdom and discernment in how to gauge our hearts and what the difference is between earthly wisdom and God’s spiritual wisdom. In doing things for personal gain, even if we are doing something “good”, it is still with a selfish, sinful, evil intent: to serve ourselves. This grinds against God’s desire for us to serve and worship Him. It goes against our very design.

In contrast, we see what it looks like to have unselfish intent: pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. Our service to others, in deed and word, is genuinely selfless. Have you ever had someone do something nice for you but you realized that their motivation behind it was not genuine? What if that person claimed to be a Christian? How bitter then did that gift or deed taste? How willing are you to believe that person again or accept that gift? We recognize, however, that a selfless gift of love is always a pleasant and welcomed surprise.

Again, this is a result of our relationship with God. If our hearts align with His Will and we seek Him above all else, this is what our lives transform into. As we move ourselves into a place of blessing, sowing our seeds of righteousness, we become more peaceful, which in turn results in more genuine and selfless actions. Love breeds love, hate breeds hate. As Christ’s love for us consumes us and we act through that selfless love, we are able to accept more of His love. This is the opposite of a “vicious circle” and instead becomes a cycle of God’s enduring love. From His heart to ours to the next person we see.

What wisdom do you possess?

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