What is wisdom? To most, wisdom means having the experience, knowledge, and good judgement to make a sound decision, one that will be beneficial for you and all who are affected by that decision. And how do we know that we have wisdom? How do we know that the decision we made was wise? That’s right, we succeed in what we do. That decision garnered us the benefits that we were looking for.

But James tell us that wisdom is not so simple to understand. There are in fact, two types of wisdom. Not only that, wisdom is not measured by the success that it brings; wisdom is measured by our conduct. Now that is certainly not in line with common understanding. So let us see what that means for us and if we have been truly wise.

“Who among you is wise and intelligent? Let him by his good conduct show his [good] deeds with the gentleness and humility of true wisdom.” James 3:13 [AMP]

This certainly is odd, isn’t it? Usually we let our deeds show our conduct. How do we know that we have been a good employee? We have better sales numbers or greater administrative efficiency to show for it. How do we know that we have been a good businessman? We have our profits to show for it. How do we know that we have been a good husband and father? We have the lives of our spouse and children to show for it.

Yet, James tells us that our fruit, that is to say our higher sales numbers, better profits and good family life, is unimportant. The truly wise, James suggests, play down the fruit of their wisdom and don’t put it on display; and that humility becomes the measure of true wisdom.

“Are there some wise and understanding men among you? Then your lives will be an example of the humility that is born of true wisdom.” James 3:13 [PHILLIPS]

In fact, one translation has it like this,

“…Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” James 3:13

Now, this is truly counter culture to how things work in the world. Don’t we do things just to get noticed? Don’t we work our fingers to the bone just so that our stellar sales numbers will get noticed by our bosses? Don’t we slave in the office so that our incredible profits will earn the envy of our competitors? Don’t we take two or three jobs just so that our children can have the latest gadgets and toys to show off in school; and our wives can have the latest handbags and ‘blingiest’ jewelry to show off to their girlfriends? But see what James has to say about this habit.

“…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.” James 3:14-16

I was at a university conference once, and as expected, all the Deans of the various faculties were arriving in their cars, being chauffeured by their personal assistants. Mind you, their offices were no more than a block away from the venue. Still, they arrived in this manner and it caused quite a queue of traffic.

Then, through the side door walks an elderly man, who even though he had no pomp or pageantry to the way he conducted himself, he made everyone at the foyer stop and do a double-take. He was the nations’ ambassador-at-large, the guest-of-honor and keynote speaker for the conference. And instead of turning up with his rightful, state-provided entourage, he decided to drive himself from his office which was obviously off-campus, park at the visitor’s carpark which was a block away and walk up the hill to the conference venue.

He could have demanded preferential treatment from the organizers. He could have called ahead and had himself whisked by security to the front of the vehicular queue. I’ve had mere ministers do that, and I am sure he would have received that courtesy from the organizers if he asked for it. But instead, he chose to let his conduct show that his work was done in the meekness of wisdom, now that’s humility.

Think about it. Had he behaved in the manner that we would expect the top man in the foreign service to, would he have made the same impact that he did? Would he have been able to leave the deans red-faced with embarrassment? Would he have been able to make them reflect on their own behavior and attitude toward their own success?

And so it is with us. All of us have our own feathers in our cap. All of us have successes under our belts. But is it true wisdom to flaunt it like it was the Crown Jewels? And if we do, what are we saying about our success? That we were its originators? That we are the creators of all that we possess? Is that true wisdom?

When you turn your eyes on yourself and attribute your success to the work of your hands, who do you make responsible for maintaining it? Yes, you. Can you be so confident that you can maintain it? Or would you rather rely on our Father, the creator of heaven and earth, to maintain your success for you?

You see, when you say that you rely and depend on Jesus to provide, on God to supply, and the supply comes; how then can you say anything else but that the supply came from Them? So if you are unwilling to humble yourself and, as James says, face the truth of your reality, that your supply indeed came from our Father, you will be stressing yourself out, trying to ensure that your success came from the work of your own hand.

But when you acknowledge and depend on our Father for your supply,

“The wisdom that comes from God is first utterly pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions, with no breath of favouritism or hint of hypocrisy. And the wise are peace-makers who go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness—in other people and in themselves.” James 3:17-18 [PHILLIPS]

Your thoughts and actions will be pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], and because you know that your supply is independent of how others view and treat you, you will be peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. You will also be unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile] because you know that your Father in heaven loves you and blesses you for who He has made you and nothing can take you away from His love. And once you are secure in our Father’s love, you will be more than content to quietly carry on doing His will and follow His direction in your life, because all that matters to you now is not man’s praise or worldly fame, but the knowledge that your obedience makes your Father happy.

Indeed, “…where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder [unrest, rebellion] and every evil thing and morally degrading practice.” James 3:16 [AMP]

For “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.” James 4:1-2

“…you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:2-3

Did you really think that God made you CEO and gave you that Rolls just so you could stick it to your relatives and friends?

It is common wisdom (there’s that word again) for us where we live, that if you wanted to drive across the border into our neighboring country, it’s best not to drive a fancy car and dress in flashy outfits. You see, law enforcement is not too good over there so you really don’t want to attract attention, lest you get robbed.

And so it is for us. Law enforcement in the world is not too great, because you-know-who is running around. So is ‘flaunting it’ the wisest thing to do? Will you not run the risk of getting robbed of the peace that is in your heart when others come against you in jealousy? Will you not run the risk of getting robbed of the rest that is rightfully yours when you-know-who starts turning your gaze back on yourself and making you think that you alone are responsible for maintaining your success?

No beloved, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

Remember that He alone has been, is and always will be responsible for your care, provision and protection. And when the world distracts you for a moment and makes you think that you alone are responsible for your own life, remember

“…he gives us grace potent enough to meet this and every other evil spirit, if we are humble enough to receive it. That is why he says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6 [PHILLIPS]

Beloved, humility does not mean debasing yourself and putting God first. Humility means facing the reality that because all which you have has come from Him, all you will ever need will come from Him as well. True wisdom is realizing that no matter what befalls you, you need not fear for you have your Father, the creator of heaven and earth, as your backer.

So let your good conduct show that your good deeds are done in the meekness of wisdom, for when you do, you will realize just what an unending source of provision and protection our Father is.

Like our messages?

Sign up to get our messages delivered daily.

Social Media Policy Privacy Policy Disclaimer Terms of Use