Guest post by Robert Hutchison
If you’ll recall, last week we started out by recognizing that true wisdom comes from God, and that living an unwise life will lead to ruin. Now, we turn our attention to examine what Godly wisdom looks like and how we live that out.
What does Godly wisdom look like?
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace. (James 3:13-18, CSB)
Thankfully, James gives us some examples of what this looks like when we live it out, when we put our faith into practice.
The Old Testament defines “pure” (Hebrew: tahar) as “refined, purified, without flaw, perfect, clean.” The wisdom from above is flawless. When we trust it and walk by it we can be sure we are walking in ways that are perfect.
To be at peace or to go “in peace” in the Bible has a sense not just of a lack of hostility or war, but also of a condition of safety and security. To walk in Godly wisdom, we can be at peace with wherever He would lead us. Jesus gives us the gift of peace when he says in John 14:27 (CSB); “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.
To be gentle is not a lack of strength, but it is strength under precise control, a mild or tender temperament or character. Someone who is walking by Godly wisdom will display a gentle nature, and not be prone to outbursts of wrath or anger.
The word James uses here can also be translated as “reasonable” “open to reason” or even “willing to yield.” When we think about living in Godly wisdom we are doing just that; it is reasonable for us to yield our will to the will of God. As Christians who want to walk by Godly wisdom we must pray the same thing that Jesus prayed in the garden to the Father, “…nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42, CSB)
Full of Mercy and Good Fruits
Mercy is both a characteristic of the nature of God, and also an action that He extends to us. As believers who are walking by Godly wisdom, we show mercy to the world around us by the good fruits we do; that is, our mercy and compassion on display for others will lead us to action on behalf of others.
This word can also be translated as “impartial” “without partiality” or “without favoritism.” Godly wisdom then is unwavering in that it is steady, resolute and has no partiality or favoritism to it. It is available to all who will call upon it, all who ask God for wisdom can receive it from Him.
Godly wisdom is sincere. When we walk in it we are a people who are sincere, without any hypocrisy or pretense. Godly wisdom on display in our lives means that we are genuine in our actions and attitudes. There is no questioning of our actions, no doubting our motives.
The list James gives us here looks very similar to the Christian who is walking by the Spirt that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:16-18 and 22-23.
I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18, CSB)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. (Galatians 5:22-23, CSB)
Imagine for a moment with me, what could our churches look like if we as believers lived these James 3:17 characteristics out amongst ourselves? What sort of impact would that have in our families lives? What about in our workplace relationships? Would people look at us and see any difference in the way we live, the way we talk, the way we treat others? Would that lead us to more opportunities to share the gospel with the world around us, to tell a lost and dying world of the hope that we’ve found?
How Can We Live Out Godly Wisdom?
To find Godly wisdom for our lives, we must be willing to submit to Godly authority in our lives!
Remember the warning of Solomon: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7, CSB)
Remember also the warning of the apostle Peter: …All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5, CSB)
If we’re unwilling to submit to the authority of God, He will not give us His wisdom.
As Christ followers, we must remember to day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute if need be to surrender control to Him and the Holy Spirit in our lives. He’s in charge, we’re not.
The apostle Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (CSB), Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.
Allow God to transform you into the image of His beloved Son, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. We can do only what we can do through the spiritual disciplines and positioning our lives to be poured into by God, but He is the only one that brings about transformation in our lives.
Are you willing to live this way? Where you’re open and transparent with God and other believers in an intentionally accountable way? Are you willing to do life with other believers that make up the body of Christ, His Church?
The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. (Psalm 14:1-2, CSB)
Don’t be like the fool! Seek to live a life of Godly wisdom.