March 7, 2015

James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

This seems to me like a pretty good yardstick for evaluating wisdom! Lots of people claim to be wise, or are even acclaimed by others as wise, but this is a pretty good guideline for seeing if that is appropriate. James had a unique perspective on this, because he grew up as Jesus’ younger brother. Having an older brother myself, I wonder what it was like, growing up with a brother who was always right in word and deed. That’s not the same thing as doing everything perfectly; I don’t think Jesus was able to run as an infant, or even cut a straight line the first time He picked up a saw. However, I’m sure Jesus demonstrated “wisdom from above” even as a young child, and this is what it looked like. As the Old Testament points out, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10) If we don’t start from the foundation of God, everything we build will be false, including wisdom. Isaac Newton is widely considered one of the greatest geniuses of history. I recently watched a BBC documentary on him that pointed out that all of his thinking was based on an unshakable conviction that everything exists because of an omnipotent Creator. He had some troubles with the definition of the Trinity, but he accepted the Biblical account as reliable. That accounts for a lot! When we encounter people who claim wisdom yet deny God and the Bible, we can rest assured that whatever they are saying, it is a house of cards that will not stand.

I was greatly blessed to grow up in a family that valued intellect, but always on the foundation of faith. I have never thought that faith and genuine science were at odds. For one thing, I had relatives who were respected scientists as well as very strong Christians. For myself, I have had to learn that the devil constantly tempts us to ignore our faith when making decisions. That’s never wise! I have had to come to the awareness that ultimately, God’s smart and I’m not. When I operate on that foundation, I’m far better able to express His wisdom, that is the “wisdom from above” that James talks about, in my daily living. That’s not to say that I’m to be straitlaced. As Dr. Richard C. Pettigrew wrote in one of his poems, “There’s such a thing as too much sense. We need a little nonsense to keep us sane.” I think I would add to James’ definition, “True wisdom doesn’t take itself too seriously.” Actually, that’s probably covered in his saying it is humble, so I don’t need to add anything at all!

Father, thank You for Your wisdom, and that You supply it to those who trust You. It’s like James wrote in the first part of his letter: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) Help me never trust my own wisdom but always seek Yours, so that I may bear Your fruit for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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