Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Discerning True Wisdom

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. James 3:13

James is writing to people who would have been familiar with that passage we looked at yesterday in Proverbs 4.  Now he asks an important question.  “Who is wise and understanding among you?” Is there anybody there who has actually gotten the wisdom recommended in Proverbs 4?  Surely some have discovered the riches of this wisdom.  We need to be able to discern between godly wisdom and worldly wisdom so that we follow the right people and learn the right principles.  We need to know what godly wisdom looks like so we can nurture it in our own lives.  It is God’s will that every person here become wise according to His standards. 

So, how can we discern godly wisdom and distinguish it from the counterfeit?

1.    Lifestyle

James 3:13 “Let him show by good conduct this his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.”  The Greeks understood wisdom as merely mental exercise. But revelation came to the Hebrews which showed them that wisdom is something lived out in a practical way.  Godly wisdom shows up in godly behavior.  It shows up in our deeds.  It shows up in our attitudes.  Are the works good?  Are the works done in meekness?  How many know, “Meekness is not weakness?”

Moses was the meekest man alive in his day yet he was also the strongest and wisest leader. He was not intimidated by the threats of Pharaoh.  He confronted rebellion in the camp.  Yet he did none of that in a prideful spirit.  He always operated in humble dependence upon the Lord.  One of the best illustrations of biblical meekness that I have ever heard is of a trained stallion.  The strength of that powerful animal is so under the control of the rider that just a gentle touch of the rein on the horse’s neck causes him to turn immediately.  Just a shift in the rider’s weight and the horse turns in the right direction. Meekness is strength under control.

In contrast, worldly wisdom operates out of pride and boasting.  The lifestyle does not reflect godly humility and it does not reflect an attitude of meekness.  The truth is, you are not acting wise by God’s standards if all of that is going on.  At least, acknowledge that. Don’t put a spiritual veneer over your carnality.  Just be honest about what’s really going on.

Wisdom is reflected by a sober spirit of humility recognizing that the wisdom you have is not of your own making; it is a gift from God to be received with gratitude and shared with meekness.  The worldly man will be prideful if he discerns that he has some form of wisdom.  The godly man is grateful.

James warns us not to receive the wisdom of God and use it to glorify ourselves and become boastful and arrogant.  His wisdom is to be shared for His glory.  It is tempting to become prideful when others respond to the wisdom of God with praise.  But remember it is not our thoughts and mind that produce the revealed wisdom of God.

Scripture to Claim:
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6

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