The Wisdom that is from Above - James 3. 13-18
A. J. Rowe, Barry
All who read this message thoughtfully will surely feel increased thankfulness for the well-known promise with which it closes.
These verses present us with a striking contrast between earthly wisdom and the “Wisdom that is from above.” Wisdom is not merely superior intelligence nor yet a great store of knowledge, but the proper use of knowledge and understanding. Although learning is often mistaken for wisdom, learned men are quite as likely to act unwisely as ignorant men. Far from being the monopoly of professors and philosophers, wisdom is often found among humbler folk. Wisdom regulates behaviour in speech and conduct. The wise man, endued with knowledge, will show out of good behaviour his works with meekness of wisdom. Present day conditions bear eloquent testimony to the folly of worldly wise men. when politicians of great learning and wide experience of world affairs strive in vain to solve the difficult problems that beset the nations, their efforts not only failing to establish peace, but seeming only to increase the confusion and chaos.
The wisdom “from above” is, first, pure; first and foremost, first in importance, perfect, impartial, without hypocrisy, sincere, and inoffensive, chaste and free from carnal motives. This is the wisdom which Solomon says is “better than rubies and all things to be desired are not to be compared to it. Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom.” Worldly wisdom is impure, unspiritual, corrupted, perverted by worldly influences, debased by sensual desires, subverted by the seduction of the Devil, misdirected by wrong motives.
First pure and then peaceable. Divine wisdom creates peace; God is the God of peace, Christ Jesus the Prince of peace. By His death He made peace. Peace is a Divine virtue. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
“He is our peace,” and He is made unto us wisdom. Wisdom pure and peaceable is the foundation of true happiness and contentment. This and this alone is the wisdom which can solve the world’s problem?- and restore harmony. Worldly wisdom, which God has turned into folly, can only provoke hostility and confusion. Only Divine wisdom, peaceable wisdom, can cure the ills, repair the evil that human folly has wrought, and this the Prince of Peace will do when He comes to reign in righteousness.
This wisdom is “gentle,” refined, noble, not rude and vulgar, nor marred, as worldly wisdom often is, by pride, arrogance and conceit. This gentle wisdom disarms suspicion, inspires confidence, and creates harmony; like charity it vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly. Gentleness is not weakness, for strong men can be very gentle with the weak. How gently Divine wisdom deals with the weak and erring. David said, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” Had the Lord dealt otherwise with him, David might never have sung Psalm 18. No human wisdom would have turned Saul the Persecutor into Paul the Preacher, The Lord in His wisdom dealt gently with Saul and made Paul great, and in this as in all else He is the pattern for the Christian. “The servant of the Lord must be gentle to all,” instructing opponents with meekness and thus recovering those who are taken captive by the devil. Is not this what Christ did with and for Paul?
Easy to be Entreated. Accessible, responsive, sympathetic. Men in high places are not easily accessible and not always sympathetic when their ear has been gained. Learned men have always been prone to look down on the simple, and never more so than when James wrote these words. How differently Divine wisdom behaves—attracting and not repelling. Here is the wisdom of the soul winner, seen to perfection in the Lord whose winsome accessibility is so consistently displayed in the Gospels. How easily He could be entreated and how comforting to know He is still the same—“Touched with the feelings of our infirmities.” “Let us therefore come boldly to the Throne of Grace.” He is still able to calm the troubled breast, to drive out doubt and fear; to say “Peace, be still.” “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Full of Mercy. Merciful, full of compassion, forgiving seventy times seven. Blessed are the merciful. Mercy appeals for the offender; human wisdom claims the punishment of the offender, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Human wisdom says, “Love your neighbours, hate your enemies,” but Divine wisdom says, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.” This wisdom displayed by our Lord and which He taught for our guidance transcends all human ethics and philosophy. To display such wisdom in our attitude to those who offend or displease us we need the. mind of Christ Who is made unto us wisdom and righteousness; in no other way shall we be able to approve things that are excellent, to be sincere without offence, and impartial without hypocrisy.
Full of Good Fruit. The character of the believer whose life is guided and moulded by the wisdom from above will be marked by the Fruit of the Spirit as set out in Galatians 5—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. This is the fruit of righteousness—the outcome of doing that which is right; wise behaviour. Wisdom not only discerns between right and wrong but acts righteously. It is possible. to discern the right and yet to act unwisely. To act rightly and to behave wisely are surely one and the same. In contrast to human folly which produces confusion and every evil work, Divine wisdom creates peace (which is as we have already remarked, the foundation of happiness and unity), and earns the commendation of the Great Peacemaker—“Blessed are the peacemakers.”
If we feel we lack this wisdom (and who does not feel this?) let us ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.