The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving… (James 3:17 NIV)
Wise! Do you want to be wise? King Solomon did and God blessed him mightily. If we lack wisdom, we should ask God. It’s a prayer He loves to answer. But James warns us about the dangers of what he calls “earthly wisdom.” He contrasts it with heavenly wisdom in two short, power-packed sentences.
Let’s reflect on these verses in the Mounce translation of the New Testament:
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, free from prejudice and hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:17,18 MOUNCE)
The first characteristic of heavenly wisdom is purity. Next, it’s peace loving. Gentle. Merciful. Get the point? Wisdom from “above” bears little resemblance to its power-hungry, counterfeit. Earthly wisdom, has a swagger. It’s powerful. Commanding. In control. Eve found earthly wisdom irresistible.
Yet true wisdom comes with its own kind of power. James reminds us that heavenly wisdom produces humility, or “bridled power.” Jesus uses the same term to describe himself is in Matthew 11:28, 29. “I am gentle and humble in heart…”
Think about it. The all-powerful King of the universe, wisdom personified, described Himself as humble. The sick were healed, the dead raised, and demons trembled in His presence. True wisdom from God in human form. May this be the kind of wisdom we seek…the wisdom that comes from above.
Lord, I ask for wisdom. Your kind of wisdom. May I be attentive to Your voice, sensitive to Your gentle whisper. Lead me in the pathway of true wisdom, always accompanied by humility. In the name of the humble Savior, I pray. -Amen.