Who is wise? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom (James 3:13)
Humility! It’s the virtue that gets lost in the speed of our fast-track living. From the Greek word, prautes, humility means “gentleness, not born in weakness, but in power.”
I’ve heard humility referred to as “bridled power.” James tells us a little secret. True humility comes from wisdom. But here’s the catch. It’s only the heavenly version of wisdom which produces humility. Counterfeit, or earthly, wisdom is simply the veneer over secret pride.
James exposes the dangerous underbelly of earthly wisdom:
If you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal) (James 3:14-15 Amplified Bible).
Envy, rivalry, selfish ambition. All symptoms of earthly wisdom. But James digs deeper. Such wisdom is not only unspiritual, he warns, it’s from the devil. This kind of wisdom trips us up in our faith walk and gives birth to all kinds of evil:
For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices (James 3:16)
The devil has no new tricks. He dangled the very same earthly wisdom to tempt Eve. When she saw “the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6). No wonder the devil still tempts us with the same lure. It works!
Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to make us alert to the dangers of earthly wisdom. We ask for an abundance of heavenly wisdom–which always results in humility.
Lord, help me resist the temptations of earthly wisdom. These look appealing, but are false fruit, tempting me to pride and self-righteousness. Give me the kind of true humility—bridled power—that causes me to look up and lean only on You.