James 3:17-18 (NKJV)17 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. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Having described the nature of earthly wisdom, characterized as it is by envy and self-seeking, James goes on to describe heavenly wisdom. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by imitating, not the wisdom of the world, but the wisdom that comes from God. And what does this wisdom look like? It is this that James tells us today.
And note if you will the complete contrast that exists between the wisdom of man in his sin and the wisdom that comes from God. The wisdom from above is not envious, but pure; it is not contentious – seeking its own – but peaceable; it does not create confusion, but is gentle and willing to yield; and instead of producing “every evil work,” it is full of mercy and the fruits of benevolence. And what are these fruits? Kindness toward all, being without partiality, as well as absolute integrity, being without hypocrisy. In short, wisdom from above imitates the One Who is above, the Lord Jesus Christ.
James informed us that the wisdom from below is full of self-seeking and envy. It looks out for number one and, when number two has something special, seeks to co-opt it for number one. The wisdom from below is never content. It is grasping and resembles the heart of the miser – ever greedy, never full, never satiated, but seeking more and more for oneself – whether the thing sought be money, glory, thrill, respect, pity, or fame, the goal is always to get more.
The wisdom from above, however, is not this way. Since it resembles the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who is full and has been full from the foundation of the world, the One who Created the world out of the overflow of His joy and fullness, the wisdom from above is likewise full to overflowing. It is peaceable – content, well settled in the mercies that God has bestowed and thankful for the bounteous goodness He has displayed. It is full of mercy and good fruits – the peaceableness and contentment manifests itself by bubbling over, sharing with others the grace that has been shared with it. And precisely because it is sharing what has already been shared with it, the wisdom from above is not shrill, not anal, not apoplectic but gentle and willing to yield. It is willing to consider the wisdom that others possess, willing to acknowledge superior views, willing to live with minor differences – rather than stubbornly maintaining its own way and demanding compliance.
So what of us? As parents how are we doing exhibiting the wisdom from above in the training of our children? How patient are we with them? Is our correction proceeding from the overflow of a heart filled with love for God and love for our kids, or is our correction flowing from our irritability and desire for respect? Are we looking out for our children’s best interest or ours? Mind you, the end product, the goal we are achieving may be the same. We want our children to be obedient, respectful, joyful – but how do we get there? With the wisdom from below or the wisdom from above? James tells us – get there with the wisdom from above.
As young men and young women, how are you doing manifesting the wisdom from above in the way you treat your siblings and your parents? Could the fly on the wall describe you as gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits? Or would he instead describe you as envious and self-seeking, looking out for your own good regardless of the consequences?
Reminded that we often fail to be wise and understanding, let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord.