Our focus today is that wisdom from above, and our text book is the New Testament epistle of James, chapter three, verses 13-18. James has identified two kinds of wisdom: (1) One that is earthly, sensual, devilish and, therefore, destructive, divisive and demonic; and (2) One that is from above which can be identified in a person by their good conversation, with accompanying works all which are labeled by James as “meekness of wisdom.” (3:13) Having spoken about the “wisdom” that produces bitter envying and strife, I want to list what James enumerates as characteristics of the “wisdom that is from above.” (3:17) So, each of us can inventory our own hearts (James did pin point this as a heart issue, 3:14) to see which of the two kinds of wisdom we possess. Would you join me in this critically important spiritual exercise, with a view to answering the question, “Which of the two kinds of wisdom is in my heart?” Here are the earmarks of that wisdom which is from above: (James 3:17)
- It is “first” pure, i.e., clean; that is, it is the core being of those who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, for the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:7). A cleansed person enjoys the positional cleansing when, at conversion, the Holy Spirit of God immerses him into the Body of Christ and from that instant, positionally, he will be forever as clean as Jesus is clean; and practically he will enjoy daily cleansing from sin, renewing the fellowship between God and himself that sin in daily practice inhibits until we “confess our sin” and experience when we do that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, keeps on cleansing us from all sin. John says in I John 3:3 that the hope that being the sons of God and knowing that one day He is coming back for us causes us to want to live pure lives in our daily walk, “for we shall see Him as He is”. (I John 3:3) God’s wisdom, working in and through us, is first pure.
- Then, it is peaceable. Sons of God have peace with God, having been justified by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ, and this peace with God (Romans 5:1), assuring us that we are not under God’s condemnation and that His wrath will never be meted out to us because of our sin, gives us the peace of God which “passeth all understanding”. (Phil. 4:7) We live pure and peaceable lives, even in the midst of the swirling cultural wars around us because wisdom produces a peace ableness in our lives.
- It is also gentle, that is, it behaves itself properly to those under our authority. Parents have authority, teachers have authority, supervisors have authority. A saved parent, teacher or supervisor or anyone else who exercises some measure of authority over others, in God’s wisdom, is gentle toward those who answer to him/her. That is, he is not an unreasonable boss and does not use the position of authority as an excuse to take advantage of those he is over. Paul says, “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal,” (Col.4:1) and “Masters…forbear threatening….” (Eph. 6:9)
- Wisdom from above is also easy to be entreated. This is the other side of the authority coin. If you are the student, the child, the employee, as a believer God’s wisdom will enable you to not begrudge those who are over you. You will endeavor to be the best employee, the best student “with fear and trembling in singleness of heart as unto Christ;” (Eph.6:5) and “not with eyeservice as men pleasers, but in singleness of heart fearing God;” (Col.3:22) “pleasing them well in all things not answering again.” (Tit. 2:9) So, when your superior comes to you with a distasteful assignment at the close of the day asking that you have it done pronto, you are “easy to be entreated.”
- It is also “full of mercy.” One who is governed by God’s wisdom responds to those around him who are in misery with mercy. Paul calls our response one driven by “bowels of mercy.” (Col.3:12) We cannot see misery and shut up or turn off our feelings to those suffering summarily dismissing it as the result of someone’s “making their own bed so they will have to lie in it.” We look past the possible causes and see a precious soul made in God’s image that will live somewhere forever and we must be “full of mercy.”
- Full of good works, realizing that this is why God made us as His “workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10) Young men should be, wisely, “zealous of good works,” (Tit. 2:7) and every believer is commanded to be “zealous of good works,” (Tit. 2:14) and “ready to every good work,” (Tit.3:1) and careful to maintain good works (Tit.3:8) not in order to earn points with God, but to fulfill God’s purpose and plan for our being left in this world so that the unbelieving world around us might behold our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)
- Finally, without partiality and hypocrisy. James warned against these sins in chapter two when he faulted churches that favored visitors in their midst who were dressed as those who apparently were wealthy, giving them the best seats and obvious deference. Wisdom that is from above is governed by equal treatment and respect to all people, regardless of their social, economic, racial or cultural orientation.
In closing, an illustration that I love. It is said that the Duke of Wellington, after a worship service, lingered at the church altar to pray and as he was praying an old man, dressed as though he might be destitute, made his way to the altar and knelt close to the General in prayer. One of the dignitary’s bodyguards eased his way up to the stranger and, putting a hand on his shoulder, motioned for him to move away from the honorable Duke. With his eagle eye and keen awareness of his surroundings, the Duke placed his hand firmly on the hand of the old, apparently poor man, and whispered, “Don’t move. We are all equal here.”
“’God give us all a thirst for that wisdom which is from above! Amen.”