January 26, 2016
13 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. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 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.18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
Who is wise and understanding among you?
It’s a good question. How would you answer the question in your own circles?
Wisdom is more than good advice or sage counsel. Wisdom is not commonly associated with towering intellectual abilities. A person can be exceedingly smart yet a thousand miles away from wise. Wisdom is not commonly associated with expertise though it would never disdain it. Wisdom often comes as a fruit of life’s experiences, though experience is not required. How often have you heard it spoken of someone that they were “wise beyond their years.”
Wisdom is a quality of soul. A wise person navigates life with an almost effortless gentility. A wise person tends to listen with a deep and disciplined atunement both to God and to other people. They listen far more than they talk and they learn far more than they teach. Wisdom is “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Wisdom “looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,” and establishes a long, slow, steady and quiet record of doing what it says. Indeed, wisdom is a “doer of the Word.”
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.18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
Note the stunning (and even studied) similarity of this word from James with that of his famous older brother.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10.
Then, on another occasion, Jesus put it this way:
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” Matthew 11:18-19.
We don’t think our way into wisdom. We act our way. 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.
The authenticating signature of wisdom is a humble life. Perhaps this is why the first step toward becoming a wise person is the humility to recognize your need for it. Remember his admonition from chapter 1? It will be a good place to stop today and an ever better way to take a next step.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, . . .”
1. I want to encourage you to hold up the text listed above known as the beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10, as a mirror. Look intently into it today and in the coming days. This is the profile of a wise person. Where do you sense the Holy Spirit calling you to grow in particular ways along these lines. Ask him.
2. Reflect on the way James frames the opposite of the “wisdom from heaven” as manifest by selfish ambition and envy. Preoccupation with oneself is the enemy of wisdom. James calls it demonic. Does this concern you?
3. Do you aspire to be a truly humble person? How are your every day actions proving this out? What would be a humble deed you could do today? Maybe even a “secret” one.
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.