September 15

What God’s Wisdom Looks Like

James 3:13-17 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

“Lord, how do I know what Your will is? What’s Your wisdom here?”

This is a question we all ask of the Lord, on a regular basis. If it’s a question about adultery, murder, or thieving, we have some well known commandments that make His will clear. But what about all the other choices we are presented with? The house we want to buy, the career direction we are thinking of taking, the person who may or may not be our future spouse? There aren’t specific commandments about those kinds of choices, but God has given us a great deal of direction in these few verses in James.

If it’s not the wisdom of God, it is instead the wisdom of this world, which is sensual, even demonic. Check your heart and look for the fruit of how you are wrestling with the issue at hand. Is there envy involved, or self-seeking? If so, stop right there, repent of them, and ask God to cleanse your mind and heart. If the process is characterized by confusion, shut it down until things clear up. If there is any other “evil thing” that you are constantly wrestling with in the process, perhaps we are insisting on our own agenda, and not God’s.

If you’re moving in God’s wisdom, however, there is a whole different spiritual landscape. There is purity and peace, and you don’t have to be defensive about your efforts. God’s wisdom is willing to yield (especially to the input of others), and is distinguished by His mercy and the good fruits of His Spirit. Lastly, there is no favoritism shown, and all things are out in the open and above board.

We want God’s wisdom to be quick and clear, or at least clearly expressed in an email from Jesus. But we often have to work through the “earthly, sensual [and] demonic” as well as the confusing, to get to the many good fruits that characterize His wisdom. It may take some spiritual seeking (including prayer and counseling), and letting God’s spirit sift through the issues of our hearts. We may have to turn away from self-seeking to having our hearts cleansed to the point of wanting His will only. But when the process is done, wisdom will look like something in our lives—something pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, and without partiality and without hypocrisy.

The process may take a while and will likely involve some dying to self. But we can thank God that He’s given us a description of the final product so we know when we’re “there.”

Prayer: Father, thank You that You have given us a description of what Your wisdom is like. Convict me of envy and self-seeking as I walk through this life. Help me to recognize bad fruit when it’s in my seeking process, and lead me by Your Spirit to the fullness of Your wisdom.