Day 37: 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.”
As we near the end of these 40 days of prayer and fasting, James will lead us through today and tomorrow by contrasting two kinds of wisdom. In today’s three verses, he actually names it “wisdom.” He can’t resist the quotation marks because it isn’t true wisdom at all.
Those who are truly wise and are beneficiaries of godly wisdom will be obvious because of their deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. Because true wisdom is from God, the only response for rescued believers who are the beneficiaries of it is humility. Humility: an absence of self. Those who are truly humble do not operate in their own self interest and self promotion. Wisdom from God will be evident in our humility.
James then draws a stark contrast between true wisdom and worldly “wisdom.” Bitter envy. Selfish ambition. Boasting. All these descriptors are marks of pride. They are earthly, unspiritual, demonic. And we’re warned when these are present, disorder soon follows. It would seem this kind of “wisdom” would be easy to avoid because it sounds off putting and none of us would purposely engage in anything earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.
But we rarely recognize our own pride problem. We’re good at letting ourselves off the hook and talking ourselves out of conviction. When the Spirit convicts, we like to rush in with comfort and the reminder that it “wasn’t our heart” or we “didn’t mean it.” But any time we feel the need to let everyone know our accomplishment (though covered in false humility), or elevate ourselves because we’re envious of someone else’s accomplishment, or go after something that solely benefits and furthers us and our interests rather than the kingdom of God, we’re not operating in wisdom. At each intersection of decision-making, may we be people who ask, “What does godly wisdom look like?”
Father, you are a God of order and peace. Help us to recognize disorder among us as a possible indicator that godly wisdom is lacking. Convict us when we’re tempted to respond in boasting, envy, or selfish ambition. Give us eyes to see what you see and respond as you would.