If you were asked the question, “Got Wisdom?” – how would you reply? Sometimes we fool ourselves into believing we have more wisdom than we really do. We can be so full of pride that we choose to believe things, justify things, and accept things as truth – that simply may not be true.
I am blessed to have an opportunity that allows me to work from home. Therefore, when my children were in school, I would take them and pick them up each day. Afternoon conversations could sometimes become very interesting. One afternoon my oldest, Jessica, began to tell me about a conversation that had gone on that day. A girl in Jessica’s class had called another girl a bad name. Jessica was in middle school and was old enough to know that she shouldn’t say the word – so she called it the “B” word. My middle child, Megan, also knew the word and was shocked that someone had said it. My kindergartener, Colby, was totally clueless. “What?” he said. “What is the “B” word?” Well, here I was with a captive audience and an opportunity to teach my children. I didn’t want the opportunity to pass, but I didn’t want to expose my son to things he did not need to know about. I explained that the “B” word was an ugly word that we should never say. Colby interrupted, “But what is it? What is the “B” word?” Again, I ignored the question and started explaining we should never call someone an ugly name. Again, “Mom, what IS the “B” word?” I continued, “It is wrong to use that word and to talk to another person that way.” Colby was not listening to me at all and blurted out, “Tell me. Tell me what the “B” word is.” I continued talking to the girls about how we should treat people. Then suddenly Colby’s pride kicked in. He wanted to be in the know. He needed to be a part of the group and have the knowledge of the word like his sisters did. He then announced with great confidence, “Oh, the “B” word. I know what the “B” word is.” The three of us gasped and turned to look at him in total shock. I said, “You do?” Colby answered, “Yes mam! I sure do! The “B” word is Butt-Sniffer.” Oh my…that still just cracks me up! He was so sure he knew the “B” word and was full of pride as he proclaimed it.
As funny as that is – Colby is not unlike the rest of us. We are full of pride. We desperately want to be a part of the group and we desire to be in the know. This blog is here because we are trying to live the abundant life that God has for us. Jesus tells us in John 10:10b,
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
We all want to be on the path to an abundant life. But we need God’s wisdom to take us there. Sometimes we think we know things, we think we are wise – just like Colby did – but are we? Again, if someone asked you, “Got Wisdom?” – how would you reply? I am currently studying the book of James with a group of friends through Beth Moore’s Bible Study, “Mercy Triumphs”. One day last week I studied James 3:13-18 and thought, “Oh my. We don’t know as much as we think we do.” Well, maybe I should speak for myself. I realized my need for God’s divine wisdom. I am amazed by God’s word. I could study this scripture over and over again and never fully understand and comprehend all that God is teaching here. We will never know enough. We should devour God’s word. Read it. Study it. Pray it. Seek to understand it and apply it in our life. It is exciting!!! Okay, sorry…back to the scripture. Here is James 3:13-18
“13) Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14) But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15) This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16) For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18) Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
Wow! Wow!! Wow!!! Does this scripture hit you the way it hits me – smack between the eyes? I love every word. Can we just break it down and talk about it?
- The first thing we read here is a question – Who among you has wisdom and understanding? Would you have raised your hand? Got wisdom? Well, before we throw our hands in the air, James go on to say that if we truly have Godly wisdom and an understanding of His word - then our actions should show it. Ooh…that means that if someone were to follow us around and listen to us speak and hear what is in our heart…it should reflect Godly wisdom and understanding. We should live out our faith. Did you notice that it says “works are done in the meekness of wisdom”? Meekness is showing mildness or quietness of nature. It is being submissive…submissive to God’s will for our life…submitting ourselves to Him. Why is that important? Because our actions are what will cause a curiosity in others - a need to know what is different about us. It is our testimony. Our opportunity to point others to Christ. If we are not living out our faith, we must ask ourselves, “Do we really believe it?” Ouch…that hurts. But we can only change what we can acknowledge. The greatest thing we can ever do is to be sure of our salvation; sure of our belief; sure enough to live it out.
- It goes deeper…not only should we live out our faith in the meekness of wisdom, but we should take account of our heart. James tells us that if we have bitter envy and/or self-seeking in our hearts then that is not from the Lord, but is demonic. Yikes! Is He stepping on your toes here? He sure is mine. Ask yourself, “Am I jealous? Am I self-seeking?” Dwell there for a little while. Think through it and be honest with yourself. Why would we be jealous and why would we be self-seeking? It is because we are full of pride. Jealousy and insecurity are just attributes of our pride – our need to be satisfied with ourselves; to feel important: to be accepted and to be liked. These feelings are not from the Lord and are an indicator that we are not as wise as we believed. They are Satan’s way to create strongholds in our lives. Have you ever stopped to list the strongholds Satan has on you? What is it that He whispers in your ear? Does he tell you that you are not good enough or that no one likes you or that you are unworthy? Define your stronghold. Define it and then allow God to destroy it. James also says that we should not boast and lie. My commentary goes on to say that “braggers are liars. The people most prone to boast or brag are those permeated by jealousy and ambition.” These scriptures tell us that these feelings of envy and self-seeking and self-promotion are from Satan and bring about confusion and every evil thing. This confusion corrupts relationships. Let’s be done with it. Let’s accept that maybe we don’t “got wisdom”…but we NEED God’s wisdom. Is it worth pursuing? Well, let’s look at verse 17.
- Lastly, James writes that when our wisdom comes from above, we will display these Godly attributes and we will be blessed with His peace:
- Godly wisdom is pure. Pure. Pure is free from the defilement of jealousy and selfish behavior. It is not self-centered. It is not full of self. It is pure.
- Pure and peaceable. To be peaceable is to have a spirit of tranquility and of calmness. It is my thought that when we understand who we are in Christ and we choose to believe what He says about us in scripture – we can truly experience His peace. Peace – no more anxiety, no more self-doubt, no more insecurity, jealousy or self-seeking – peace. Peace that only comes from seeking God’s divine wisdom.
- Wisdom from above produces gentleness. Gentle – not harsh. When we become harsh we are only trying to drive our personal point. We are self-centered and not showing concern for others. Only when we embrace God’s peace can we have a gentle, mild and meek spirit.
- The next phrase says that we should be willing to yield. (Being gentle and willing to yield does not suggest that we should be bullied in any way, shape or form. Please don’t misunderstand. That is NEVER okay. We must establish healthy boundaries.) What this is teaching us is that instead of being self-seeking, we should have a spirit that is willing to yield. Think about the big yellow traffic sign that says “Yield”. It means to stop and let others go first. Today’s society is so confused. Social media has invited us to pretend we live a perfect life. It creates a competitive spirit. We want to be the best mom. Throw the best birthday party. Have the smartest children. Live in the best neighborhood. Have the largest home. Be the most successful, etc. It pits us against one another. By yielding, we can stop competing with one another and start celebrating each other. We can encourage each other as moms. We can choose to never judge or criticize – but to embrace and inspire others. We can pray for one another’s children and even establish prayer partners. We can pray for each other and celebrate the successes of others. We can yield to our will and submit to God’s will for our life. There is nothing to compare here – nothing to compete with. There is only one will for our life and it is not like anyone else’s. It is God’s perfect plan for us. Are we living it out?
- When we have Godly wisdom, we will be full of mercy. Mercy is kindness, care and compassion. It is forgiveness shown to others. Ephesians 2:4 tells us that “God is rich in mercy”. To be Christ-like, we must be rich in mercy as well. Are we? Are we rich in mercy? What would be the opposite of showing mercy? Judgment? We can only be full of mercy when we accept others, love them with God’s love, and see the best in them. Let’s all pray that God will fill us full of mercy for others. That we will be a help to others. That we will notice when others need our mercy.
- We should be full of good fruits. In John 15:16 Jesus commissioned the disciples to “go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And Matthew 7:16-20 tells us that we will be known by our fruits. Are we? Are we known by our fruits? Are we bearing fruit for Christ? Do we live out the fruits of the spirit in our daily life – at work and at home?
- Lastly, Godly wisdom is without partiality and without hypocrisy. This means that it is undivided. This wisdom is without favoritism, unwavering and consistent. It is true, it is sincere and it is unpretentious. We should not pretend we have Godly wisdom. We should not be partial to those who we believe have Godly wisdom. We should not brag about our Godly wisdom. And we surely have no right to. After reading this list…I am convicted and determined to lay down my worldly issues. We have a choice. We can read this and go on about our day...or we can let these words change us. Let’s realize our need for Him is greater than we have ever imagined. Let’s seek wisdom and understanding that only He can provide.
- Verse 18 wraps it all up and puts a pretty bow on this passage. Once we bear the fruit of God’s righteousness, we will experience true peace. This peace is sown by those who make peace. If we are not at peace – with our self, in our relationships, in our daily walk – then we have a lot of work to do.
Whew! Those six verses have started a whirlwind in my heart. I hope they have in yours as well. After reading this passage I realize that I don’t have as much wisdom as I would like to believe. If you asked me, “Got Wisdom?” I would have to say, “Not so much”. Just like Colby – I have chosen to believe that I knew things that I really didn’t understand. I want to allow these scriptures to change me. Do you? Please let me hear from you. I would love to know if you are impacted by these words. What I realize today more than ever before is that I need Jesus…more and more and more of Jesus. As John 10:10 tells us, Satan wants to destroy our life and will use “self” to do it – self-ambition, self-centeredness, self-doubt. Jesus came so that we could have an abundant life. Let’s say no to self and yes to Him. Then when asked, “Got Wisdom?”, we can answer, “Working on it!!”
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