“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering,
without hypocrisy.” James 3:17
When you hear the word “wisdom,” do you picture an
old, bearded guru sitting on top of a mountain? Do you think privately, “I
can’t possibly be ‘wise’ – that’s
for special, super-holy saints, not for me!”
But we – all of us – are called to be wise, and James
describes very clearly what that wisdom looks like. It is “pure,
peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering,
Do you notice something interesting about that list? It doesn’t
say, “The wisdom from about involves a rare and mysterious
enlightenment,” or “The wisdom from above is reserved
for special men and women who are somehow holier than everyone
else.” Instead, each item on the list describes a character
trait – traits that are completely within everybody’s
If wisdom is a matter of character, then being wise is primarily
about how we approach a situation, not about whether we have answers
to every dilemma.
To begin to think of wisdom as it is described in James 3:17,
consider a perplexing or difficult situation you are currently
facing and ask yourself:
- Have I been responding to this situation
in a pure manner, or do I have sin that I need to confess and
- Have I been seeking peace in this situation, or have
I been adding fuel to the fire?
- Have I been gentle with everyone
involved, including myself?
- Have I been reasonable in what I say
and how I say it, or have I been reacting out of my emotions?
I been willing to extend mercy and forgiveness to other’s
faults, or am I holding onto my hurts and grudges?
- Have I been
willing to do good to the others involved, or am I withholding
myself from them?
- Have I been unwavering in my commitment to what
- Have I been honest and open with everyone involved?