Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
Think back to a time where you made a big life decision or took a leap of faith. When I’m in those moments I say, “I just need some wisdom,” all the time. I’ve said that for nearly all my life but I realized that I didn’t actually understand what that means. What is wisdom? How do you recognize it? James 3 does a great job of explaining wisdom so let’s dive in and break it down.
First of all, let’s define wisdom here for clarities’ sake. This particular use of wisdom is a translation of the Greek word Sophia. The Lexicon defines it as “varied knowledge of things human and divine, acquired by acuteness and experience.” It refers to both practical, learned knowledge (skills, experiences, actions) and wisdom in a philosophical sense. It is an action-oriented word.
Next let’s think about what wisdom is not. Verses 14-17 warn against jealousy and selfish ambition saying that where they exist there will be, “disorder and every vile practice.” Wisdom does not require an audience to be authentic. Meaning, it does not exist for the glorification of self. It is objective. So a wise decision does not have to be shouted from the rooftops. I love how verse 13 mentions that wisdom is meek. A lot of times that may mean choosing the high road and accepting that no one will ever know that.
Ok, so wisdom first exercises peace. This includes our actions towards others as well as a state of being. Peace comes from discerning the Lord’s will and trusting in it. Next, it is gentle. The Greek word for gentle is referencing fulfilling the spirit of the law over the letter of the law. A simple way to understand it is to think of the words “gentle,” in combination with, “merciful.” Oh, and fun fact, the Greek word for mercy in this verse? It’s an action word. Meaning, wisdom can only be merciful if mercy is being enacted. Trucking along, impartial and sincere go hand in hand. Other translations say “without hypocrisy. So it isn’t fake or a show. It doesn’t distinguish between people and it doesn’t have an agenda.
Moving on to verse 17, which might be one of my favorites, go ahead and re-read that. “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” It gives me chills. When I read this verse, I immediately think of the justice system. Lawyers are seen as people who center their careers on conflict. I have a theory through that biblically; their craft should be more about peace. Creating peace between two parties. The peacemakers enact righteousness.
So what does that all mean? What does it mean to have wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, merciful, fruitful, impartial, sincere, and peaceable? I’d encourage you to commit this to memory and use it to help judge your decisions. All those values are precepts by which we are to live. Wise decisions and a wise life will have all those characteristics.So I use this list as instructions to decision making. I ask myself; is this action merciful? Is this action peaceable? Then I ask the amazingly wise people in my life their thoughts. They can often evaluate with a clearer head than I can.
These verses have really helped me to remove the mystique of discerning if something is “in the will of God.” I don’t think life is supposed to be like a magic eighth ball. Do you remember those? You’d shake it and wait for a yes, no, or maybe. God is so much clearer than that. I love that He gives such a clear example of how to be wise in Him.
I hope this helps you in your week and that they Lord will use this scripture in your life! I really believe that God can use Firecracker Heart to bring about a community and place to learn about Him. If something in these verses speaks to you or if you need prayer for whatever you’re going through, please let me know! I like to think of this as a family here and I would love to care for you in that way.