Wisdom from Above
by Debbie Holloway
Recently I participated in a small group discussion of Christ-like humility. Our discussion leader had pulled up several Scripture passages for us to reflect upon, and one of them has been racing around in my brain ever since:
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy (James 3:17).
Christ (such as in Mark 1:35) always sought wisdom from above before speaking and acting. Thus, as Christians (Christ-followers) we should be constantly seeking this godly wisdom and applying it to our lives and relationships. But that verse is a big verse. What does it look like to have this wisdom from above?
1. It is first of all pure. Our motives for doing anything should reflect a desire to live like Christ and be in right relationship with God. If our earthly “wisdom” tells us to approach a situation with impure motives such as greed, selfishness, or pride – that is not wisdom from above.
2. It is peaceable. Sometimes we get preoccupied with the imagery of Spiritual Armor and treat everyone we meet like an enemy solider. We must remember that Ephesians 6:10 says this battle is “not against flesh and blood.” Our Lord is a Prince of Peace, and we have a duty to act as citizens of peace.
3. It is gentle. Proverbs 15:1. If we speak gently, others are more likely to accept and understand God’s work and wisdom. But gentleness is not just about tone of voice. Remember the gentleness and patience with which Jesus dealt with children, sinners, and his apostles. Gentleness is a way of life.
4. It is reasonable. Another translation of this reads “willing to yield to others” – and both are absolutely crucial elements of wisdom. It may seem impossible to live a pure lifestyle while being reasonable and willing to yield, but the Bible says we must. We were given an astounding level of intellect and reason – let us use it! We mustn’t buy in to the lie that “reason is the enemy of faith.” It is necessary to yield to God daily with every decision we make. But it is also possible (and necessary, and wise) to yield to others. Whether it’s a matter of selfless giving or resisting the urge to have angry, theological debates, we are called to yield.
5. It is full of mercy. That parent who abused their authority? That government leader who makes you cringe? That blogger who sounds heretical? Wisdom from above tells us to look on them with mercy. After all, has not God shown us the greatest mercy of all?
6. It is full of good fruits. I’m sure many of us can list Galatians 5:22 of the Lord’s Spirit. When we use godly wisdom to discern what we should do, we will consider the fruits of our choices. Do we strive to make choices that result in the fruits of the Spirit manifested in our lives?
7. It is unwavering. Perhaps it might be strange to think that wisdom from above can be both “willing to yield” and “unwavering.” But don’t think of them as opposites. Perhaps think of it like a marriage or a friendship. Each person in the relationship must listen to reason and be willing to yield to the other. But the relationship itself must be unwavering. We must be bold enough to live unwaveringly as followers of Christ and good stewards of the earth, no matter the opposition.
8. It is without hypocrisy. If something seems like wisdom to you but causes you to be double-minded or deceitful, it cannot be wisdom from above. What we believe must match what we say. What we say must match how we behave. Otherwise, we misrepresent Jesus and the lifestyle we claim to live.
Intersecting Faith and Life: The next time you’re faced with a decision, take a moment to match up your actions with "wisdom from above."