Lord, the wisdom of this world is indeed foolishness with You (1 Cor. 3:19).
Read James 3:13–18
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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“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” (Jas. 3:13). Bring to mind those people who have given you a helpful word this past week. Thank God for the wisdom he gave them.
Who springs to mind when you’re asked to identify the wise among the men and women within your congregation? Who do you feel really understands and empathizes with you? Do the names of church leadership come first? Whom do you know who can make sense of the world in which we find ourselves? James’s rhetorical question in verse 13 makes us pause for a moment and consider our church communities and our perceptions of one another.
How do we recognize wisdom? How do we assess understanding? Immediately James provides the criteria: our deeds and the humility by which we carry them out. He gives us a checklist but, with a surprising turn, he makes us apply it to ourselves. He tells us in effect to look at the plank in our own eye rather than the speck in the eye of someone else (Matt. 7:3–5). Are we envious (literally “bitter” like the saltwater of verse 11) of the status, achievements or wealth of others? How about our motivation? Do we aspire to personal recognition as we share our wisdom? If so, any wisdom we demonstrate has no spiritual value: in fact, it’s from the devil (15), and the end result will be social division and personal impropriety.
How, then, can anyone demonstrate true wisdom? By receiving it from heaven (17) is James’s answer. In a passage that closely parallels Paul’s input (cf. Gal. 5:22,23), James sets forth seven adjectives that describe the kind of wisdom God gives. This wisdom is among other things self-
effacing, gentle, open to reason and welcoming. James’s last farming metaphor emphasizes his overwhelming concern throughout the letter: what is the practical result? The collective application of God’s wisdom creates a community that is united and productive.
Using Galatians 5:22 and 23 as a basis, ask God for a basket of good fruit, a gift from the harvest of righteousness, for your leadership team and yourself.
Lord, help me to analyze the kind of wisdom in which I tend to operate; fine tune the way I deploy it, and conform it to Your standards.
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