Scripture: But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18 ESV
Observation: James transitions from a sharp admonition concerning our loose lips that reveal our sinful hearts to the antidote: drawing on wisdom from above (godly wisdom). So what is wisdom from above? It is meek (3:13), pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere (3:17). In contrast, James’ cites elements of ungodly, unwise living: bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, boasting, and twisting the truth (3:14). He contends that such worldly behavior has demonic roots and leads to disorder (3:15-16).
Takeaway: The wise are teachable (in contrast to prideful arrogance). They speak with a gentle correction that bears peace (compared to those who revel in stirring controversy). And the wise are sincere (not equivocating or manipulating) and impartial (seeking the truth and best interest of all concerned). Overall, the wise sow peace that reaps a harvest of righteousness (3:18) that disarms demonic machinations of chaos and destruction. These are the qualities that any Christian should possess—particularly teachers, who, as James reminds us, are held to a higher degree of accountability (3:1).
So how do we appropriate godly wisdom? James provides the answer in his introduction: ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach (1:5), but ask in faith without doubting (1:6). However, to do so requires trust in our Father of lights, that he delights in giving us good gifts (1:17) just as much as he delighted in granting Solomon wisdom (1 Kings 3:10). And it requires that we keep looking up to the source of our godly wisdom that comes from above.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the gift of your Son who personified godly wisdom. Would you please help us keep looking up to him in his glory and submit to your Holy Spirit, who instills your divine wisdom in us, that we might be your ambassadors of the peace who sow a restorative harvest of righteousness? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling