I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t want to be wise. We may readily admit that we are not intellects, that we are not athletes, that we are not runway model material, or whatever……But wise? Even if we concede that we’re not as wise as we’d like to be, most of us want to at least imagine that we possess a modicum of wisdom.
Did you know that the Bible talks a great deal about wisdom? An entire section of the Bible (Job through Song of Songs) is categorized as ‘Wisdom Literature’. The Book of Proverbs is largely a description of wisdom and its practical benefits. In the New Testament, James takes up the subject explaining first how to obtain wisdom (James 1:5) and secondly by describing the character of wisdom (James 3:13-18).
I love the way James introduces the subject in chapter 3. He asks a question to which we desperately want to answer in the affirmative: “Who is wise and understanding among you?”. James then challenges us to back up our talk with our walk: “Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility” (James 3:13).
In other words, James is saying that wisdom can be verified. There is a way to measure how wisely, or unwisely, we are living. And it’s not just a matter of what we have done, or are doing, but it is hugely relevant how we are engaged in good deeds. For James, it’s not enough to do the right thing, we must do the right thing rightly. That is, our motivation for acting, and our purpose for acting, is immensely relevant for how God evaluates a deed’s ‘goodness’.
As I spoke on this subject this morning at St. Giles Kingsway, one of the key points I was wanting to convey was that, when it comes to progressing in wisdom, the effort required from us is at the acquisition stage and not at the application stage. Wisdom will always bear fruit. We’re not called to manufacture wisdom’s marks. Wisdom cannot be put on. We can’t become more wise by gritting our teeth and trying harder. The effort required comes in when we seek wisdom from the One who offers it “without finding fault”. Yes, one of the amazing things about God’s dispensing of wisdom is that it is not related to merit. Wisdom is not portioned out according to what we deserve, but according to our asking. Sound too good to be true?
Have a listen while you read along in James 3:13-18 and James 1:5-8. Wisdom is ours for the asking. This is awesome news. I need wisdom (some would say I need lots of it!), and so I’m delighted hear that gaining more of it is neither elusive or complicated.
What about you? Are you wise? And, if there’s room for improvement, will you do what is required to get more of it?