Jan 10, 2011

The wisdom of God versus the wisdom of man

When you hear the word wisdom, what comes into your mind? What are the characteristics of wisdom? What does the Bible says about wisdom?

One passage about wisdom is especially helpful in our understanding of the biblical view of wisdom: James 3:13-18.
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (NASB)
Let’s examine the words used here to describe what wisdom really is.

Wisdom is made up of parts:

From above – True wisdom comes from God, meaning it is a gift from God, not something that we can simply work hard to obtain. The Bible tells us that we only need to ask God for wisdom who gives it abundantly. It is based on truth and it advocates truth. In the end, it points back to God and His plan for us.

Pure – True wisdom isn’t something that men came up with. It isn’t famous sayings, or platitudes. Wisdom is not the result of some motivation such as popularity or wealth. Wisdom is holy.

Peaceable – True wisdom is demonstrated by those who are at peace, meaning those brought together with God. The word we translate as “peace” is from a Greek word that can carry the meaning “brought together.” In this context, peaceable means those who are together with God, or more simply stated, those who have a good relationship with God.

Gentle – True wisdom is thinking and behavior that is “appropriate” and “mild.” It isn’t furious about opinions or strongly trying to persuade others. It isn’t rude even though it is right.

Reasonable – However, true wisdom is able to persuade just by its truth. Wisdom points out what is right and what is evil from God’s perspective, not from what man thinks is right.

Full of mercy – True wisdom is kind and helps those who need it and corrects what is spiritually wrong. It also forgives offenses when someone else does what is wrong, but points out the error in a loving and gentle way.

Good fruits – True wisdom isn’t just thinking and expressing Godly thoughts. Anyone can learn biblical principles and state them to others. However, wisdom is shown in the life of those who actually do the things God wants us to do.

Unwavering – What was wisdom a thousand years ago is still wisdom today. Since God is eternal and hasn’t ever changed; so too, wisdom, since coming from God, doesn’t change and hasn’t changed since before God spoke creation into existence. Man hasn’t leaned anything more or added anything to God’s creation or God’s plan that makes wisdom different today than it was in the garden.

Without hypocrisy – True wisdom has not disguises, it isn’t crafty or deceitful. It is sincere and open and is plain to the observer. Wisdom brings clarity and understanding, not confusion. Wisdom is sincere and open, it is steady and even. You won’t be confused by wisdom.

What do each of these look like and how do we apply this true wisdom in our lives? Worth contemplating and daily asking God for this wisdom.

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