DOING WISDOM RIGHT
Wisdom supposedly comes with age and experience. I have plenty of both, but I recently came across a Scripture that made me wonder if I might be doing this wisdom thing all wrong. Yes, it sounds odd to me, even as I type it out. How can you get wisdom wrong? Please, hear me out and see if you don’t think there may be more to this wisdom thing that just what old age and experience can bring you.
The definition of wisdom that I found on the Web is “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise or the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” This seems to support the theory that age and experience, coupled with good judgment is enough to be considered wise.
However, Godly wisdom, or “wisdom from above,” as it is called in James 3, has a very specific set of qualities that I believe take wisdom to a much higher level – perhaps specifically because it originates from “on high.”
The Scripture I am referring to is James 3:17 and I like both the ESV and the NIV versions of it, although I find slightly different nuances to each one. [ESV] But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. [NIV] 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.
Let’s examine just a few of the traits of this higher level of wisdom and perhaps we can work toward “doing wisdom better”.
- Wisdom from above is first pure. The word translated “pure” is Strongs G3303 and is often translated “truly” or “indeed” – as in Matthew 17:11; 20:23; 23:27 and Mark 1:8 – just to list a few. To me, it would be similar to saying, in our modern vernacular – “wisdom is first ‘real’” – not some pseudo intellectualism. It is not kind of true or maybe correct. Wisdom that comes from God is indeed, truly wise. And, I would say, true and real in a way that only the Father Creater who has eternity’s experience can provide. He is willing to give us that wisdom, wisdom based on His eternal age and vast experience, if we are willing to receive it.
- Wisdom from above is next peace-loving. If I am giving life advice, perhaps the first question I should ask myself before dispensing my wisdom is, “Does this come from a position of seeking peace – loving peace?” I've been guilty of thinking, “She is not going to like this, but she needs to hear it.” Was I seeking peace, or just seeking to dispense what I know to someone who I think needs to hear it? Wisdom from above, loves peace, so never seeks conflict and will strive to avoid it.
Wes is fond of saying, “You don't have to fight this battle.” This is something to remember when someone else tries to draw me into a fight by providing their “wisdom” on a matter. Even if it isn’t peace-loving wisdom I am being given, I don’t have to be drawn into conflict. I can answer with God’s own peace-loving wisdom or possibly just keep my mouth shut, which is often the most peace-loving and wise thing any of us can do.
- Wisdom from heaven is gentle or considerate. Just because I know something does not give me the right to beat someone else over the head with it. This tells me that I must be gentle when dispensing wisdom and considerate of the other person – think of the other person’s feelings, consider if they are ready to hear it and ask myself if this is the right time. It reminds me of a recent incident where a Facebook connection of mine posted that he was at his wits end. Immediately, he was inundated with well-meaning advice to go to God in prayer – to trust in the Lord – that it would all work to the good. These are all true statements, but to a hurting person, perhaps not the most gentle and considerate thing to say at that time when, “I’m sorry you are going through this. How can I help?” might have been better received. In the book of Job, we find Job’s “friends” bludgeoning him with “wise” advice, given in a less than gentle way and with questionable motives and inconsiderate timing. I should not be like them in dispensing wisdom. The pure and peace-loving wisdom from above would never do that.
- Wisdom from above is impartial. I was watching the movie, “Selma,” while exercising earlier this week. This scripture calls to mind the conventional “wisdom” of the very partial laws of Alabama at that time – laws that sought to oppress and separate and deny Black Americans and were justified with many different types of arguments. But this type of “wisdom” based on partiality toward one group isn’t a new thing in the human experience. James had to warn early New Testament Christians of that very thing, as we read in James 2:1-9. The gist of the message is found in the first verse: My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. God’s wisdom isn’t like that – it isn’t good for some and bad for others.
Godly wisdom is, among other things, peace-loving, true (pure), gentle and considerate, and good for all of us.
Yea, I might have done wisdom wrong – might have been partial or less than gentle or not so peace-loving, but I am determined to correct that. James 3:18 tells us, Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. Peace-loving wisdom from above reaps righteousness. Why would I sow any other kind?
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.