When we think of wisdom, what or who comes to mind? Proverbs perhaps. Solomon maybe.
But there is an interesting passage of scripture in the letter of James about wisdom. It’s interesting because it looks at wisdom in a way that’s different from the way we usually look at this subject. It’s also interesting because it speaks of two kinds of wisdom.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 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. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:13-19, NIV)
Now look up the definition of wisdom in a dictionary. I don’t think you’ll find the same words used by James. Moreover, I don’t think we consider the same words used by James when we think of wisdom. We ordinarily think of shrewdness, intelligence, insight, and logic.
It’s another reminder of the disconnect that sometimes arises between what we think and what Holy Scripture says. And what scripture says about the meaning of words, different aspects of life, and life itself is quite similar to what James says about wisdom. You show wisdom by your good life and by deeds done in humility.
And, according to James, you use these kinds of words to define wisdom: purity, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, mercy, bearing good fruit, impartiality, and sincerity.
Wisdom is aggressively sought after today. Everybody wants to be wise. Wise in the way James describes it?