“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” James 3:13
It’s funny how our view of wisdom can change over the years. When I was young, I might have thought a person wise who simply achieves what he or she wants to achieve. As I grew a bit older, I recognized true wisdom embodies much more than accomplishing one’s goals.
We might ask, “What are the right goals?” or, “Are my goals even biblical?” To find out the meaning of wisdom, we must go to the Bible. To determine which people are wise, we need to carefully listen to what God’s says about wisdom.
1) Wisdom should be carefully sought.
The Bible indicates that true wisdom always leads us to the fear and knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:5). In order to acquire wisdom, we must be attentive, and actually cry out to God for it (Proverbs 2:1-5). Most people seek some form of advancement in life, often placing that above everything else, but God directs our steps toward His wisdom.
2) Wisdom leads us to live a humble life.
In the passage at the top of this page, James exhorts his readers to perform works in the “meekness of wisdom.” He goes on to describe people caught up in conduct that does not reflect God’s wisdom: jealousy, envy, self-centeredness, and raw ambition. He goes so far as to call such behavior demonic (James 3:15).
On the other hand, the wisest people find their joy and consolation in God alone. As a result, they do not seek to cause contention, promote their own interests, or demonstrate aggressive behavior toward others. Nor do they insist everyone follows their opinions and engage in verbal slugfests. They know and trust that God will take care of them and therefore entrust all their affairs with God.
3) God grants His wisdom generously.
In James 1:5, he directs us to ask God for wisdom. God, because He is generous, grants us His wisdom if we ask for it with a humble heart and from pure motives. He will not grant us insights on how to achieve things from impure motives, nor will He give us wisdom in order to get some sort of worldly advantage, but He will grant it as a humble cry for wisdom.
Finally, in the Bible wisdom always leads us to, not away from, personal holiness. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). For example, if God grants us wisdom, it will lead us closer to Him in our personal walk.
So, who is the wisest person? You might not spot them at first; they do not make a show of themselves. You will not hear them call themselves “wise,” for they will leave that judgment to others. In fact, you might not hear much from them at all, because they are “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19).
Posted on Fri, September 20, 2013
by Sam Petitfils