One of the best ways to understand the Bible is to read all of it. The Bible utilizes historical and representative stories; there are proverbs (wise sayings) and poems that all weave various ideas together into a beautiful complimentary tapestry of the whole. If we follow one strand (in this instance wisdom), we can see all sorts of ways that the whole gamut of scripture speaks in unison about it. If you were to simply do a word study of “wisdom”, you would gain significant insight into how you might live in a wise way. For our purposes, we are going to skip ahead just two chapters in the Bible to chapter 3 of James. Here James is contrasting the wisdom of the world and the wisdom that is from above. Worldly wisdom is self-centered and personally ambitious, whereas, Godly wisdom is quite the opposite. You’ll see what I mean in verse 17:
“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.”
This is a great verse to help us consider what Godly wisdom looks like. When we consider a course of action or a way of thinking about a matter, we can run it through this lense and see whether it is actually wise. Here are some self-reflective questions that flow directly out of this verse:
Are my motives pure in this decision?
Will this decision cause strife or bring peace to those directly affected by it?
Am I considering the feelings and viewpoints of others, or just my own?
Am I willing to listen to and even to yield to another’s opinion, instead of holding on to my own inclinations?
Am I dealing with others in a generous and merciful way?
Will my actions bring about good results for all involved?
Am I being impartial, or do I need another person’s objective insight to help me see more clearly?
Am I being honest with myself and others?
These questions are a pretty tall order! They range from requiring personal honesty to dealing with our selfish inclinations. I don’t know about you, but I desperately need these kinds of questions in my life to pull back the curtain of self-centeredness that so often clouds my decision making. I need to constantly be brought before the wisdom of God and see where I am lacking. It is then, and only then, that I can “ask God who gives [wisdom] generously… without finding fault!”