The wisdom from God reveals itself through our good behavior. A wise person shows his/her spiritual wisdom by their resulting good behavior (James 3:13-18).
Are you spiritually wise and understanding? Look at your inner soul, and your outward actions, the things you do. That will tell you if you are spiritually wise and understanding.
The same principle goes for those around us: those in our sphere of influence, and those at our church, and those in the public eye, like Hollywooders, politicians, mega musicians, and mega sportsters. Outward behavior reveals our inward wisdom or lack thereof, and our capability to understand, or not understand.
13 Who among you is wise and understanding?
Let him show
by his good behavior his deeds
in the gentleness of wisdom.
14 But if you have
bitter jealousy and [i]selfish ambition
in your heart,
do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.
15 This wisdom
is not that which comes down from above,
but is earthly, [j]natural, demonic.
16 For where jealousy and [k]selfish ambition exist,
[l]there is disorder and every evil thing.
17 But the wisdom from above is
first pure, then peaceable, gentle,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without hypocrisy. 18
And the [n]seed
whose fruit is righteousness
is sown in peace [o]
by those who make peace.
James states that there are four sources of wisdom (v15):
- of God: “that which comes down from above” (v17-18)
- earthly: (v15-16)
- natural: (v15-16)
- demonic: (v15-16)
Where does your wisdom come from? Good question! Are you full of wisdom from sources that are earthly, natural and/or demonic? Or, does the wisdom you show by your behaviors – “that which comes down from above” (v17-18), from God, from His Word – the Bible?
The earthly, natural, demonic “wisdom set” produces it’s own typical behaviors, such as: jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder and every evil thing (v15-16), and bitter jealousy, selfish ambition in your heart, being arrogant and lying against the truth. Wow – don’t want any of THOSE in me! But, well, yes, I do also struggle with these….
It’s not all that difficult to identify what type of wisdom you have dominating your personal experience. Just examine yourself and see what kinds of actions are coming from you! Your type of wisdom is kind of impossible to hide from others – as it is right out there, with what you do, what you say, how you live, your lifestyle — what others see from what you do, from what you say.
It is popular to excuse bad behavior, and to put-down any who are discerning between good and evil. The world’s wisdom (earthly, natural) does not want anyone distinguishing good from evil. The natural world even goes as far as to redefine “good” and “evil”, thus legitimizing themselves and excusing their evil.
That’s why the Apostle Paul strongly exhorts each of us to “examine yourselves“. What kind of actions (or lack of action) are coming from you living out your days? It is far too easy to manipulate our thinking, and rationalize things to legitimize our behaviors. It’s even easier to just not look too deeply! We humans are so gullible and just plain intellectually lazy, making it so easy to accept the status quo. We may even be duped by the world, and say what they say, like: “just let it be”, “it’s all good”, “don’t judge anyone”.
But Paul tells us: Yes, judge! (…in the sense of discern; not, obviously, in the sense of “condemn“). Followers of Jesus Christ are to judge, discern – between what is good and what is evil, what is acceptable before God… and what is NOT acceptable before Him. We are never told to judge in the sense of “condemn”. God will do the condemning later. Right now, on earth, His followers are to love sinners, not condemn them or be unloving towards them.
Having begun by the Spirit,
are you now being perfected by the flesh?
The earthly, natural, demonic “wisdom set” produces evil, fleshly behaviors:
The spiritual wisdom, “wisdom from above” (v17-18), produces good behavior:
James 3:13-18 “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the [f fruit of righteousness] seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace [g]by those who make peace.
2 Corinthians 1:12 in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
24 Now those who [a]belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also [b]walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
I ask myself: What behaviors are coming out of your life, Keith? What about yours, _____?
Draw near to God
He will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners;
and purify your hearts, you double-minded.