James 3:13-18: Growing in Wisdom
October 7, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
What is real wisdom? What are its characteristics? James now describes two different kinds of wisdom. And each is characterized by a certain sort of fruit.
First, there is wisdom that is not from God. That kind of wisdom is characterized by envy and selfish ambition. And so often along with envy and selfish ambition comes disorder and evil practice.
But then, second, there is wisdom that is from God. How do we know that an idea is wise is from God? James gives us a list of characteristics and they are reflective of the nature of God himself as he works in us by his Spirit. Pure; peace-loving; considerate; submissive; full of mercy and good fruit; impartial; sincere. These kinds of characteristics go along with wise ideas, wise actions, wise decisions that come from God. With such peacemaking wisdom, we sow in peace and we reap a harvest of righteousness.
So wisdom from God is quite different from worldly wisdom. A cunning plan may produce the ambitious goal we have set for ourselves or for our organization. But if that plan or that wise project is filled with envy and selfish ambition, then in the end its fruit will be disorder and disappointment. Conversely, if a wise approach is instead characterized by consideration and mutual submission, mercy towards one another, and sincerity, then that plan – assuming that it reflects the doctrine and teaching of Scripture – is likely to be that which bears the marks of the fruit of the Spirit and therefore is wisdom from God.
Growing in wisdom is such an important part of the maturing process of the Christian life. Read the Book of Proverbs. And read through this passage over and again to think more on what is true wisdom. The Bible does not give us answers to every single situation we may face. But it does point us to the path of wisdom. Wisdom is founded on the fear of God – wanting to please God and do what he wants – but it is also characterized by these fruit:
…pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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