Anybody else praying for wisdom these days? More aware now than ever that to navigate our cultural moment we need help from above?
A couple of chapters ago James exhorts his readers, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (1:5). Okay, that’s a promise to claim. But how do we know if we’re picking up what the Father is sending down? How do we know that wisdom sent from above hasn’t been hijacked with an apparent wisdom sourced from below? Something I read this morning might help with assessing if we’re walking in the way of real wisdom.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
(James 3:13-15 ESV)
Meek, pure, peaceable. Gentle, open to reason, full of mercy. Impartial and sincere. How’s that for a checklist against which to check ourselves? Useful for a quick mental assessment of whether or not the wisdom we’re walking in is sourced from the God who liberally supplies wisdom or has been swapped out with something that is more earthly, unspiritual, or even demonic?
I need to ask myself, Self, is the way that seems right to you cloaked in a mild disposition and a gentle spirit, or is it more often accompanied by the hair standing up on the back of your neck and your fists clenched?
Self, is it founded in truth — real, verifiable, truth? Is it peace loving, peace promoting — more characterized by a heart of reconciliation rather than a default to division? Is it respectful, seeming, suitable, and fair?
Self, is it open to reason? I love that one! Is its starting point one of wanting to link arms rather than butt heads. Some translations convey being compliant (CSB), submissive (NIV), or willing to get along (NLT). Ready to listen, slow to speak. Open to correction, not quick to defend. A “let’s have a conversation” attitude rather than a “let me tell you a thing or two” posture.
Self, is the wisdom you’re waving full of mercy. Overflowing with kindness, even if kindness isn’t necessarily overflowing to you? Is it without duplicity and hypocrisy. A heart that’s right, a heart that’s open, a heart that’s free of veiled agendas?
That’s the wisdom from above. That’s what God’s ready to give generously for those who ask. And we ask for what we want.
That’s what I want. Lord, give wisdom that looks and sounds a lot more like Jesus and lot less like me.
For my good. For the good of others.
By Your grace. For Your glory.