Take a quick look around you! Pundits peddling “wisdom” are a dime a dozen these days. Pick any topic that you need information on or something you need to make a decision about. Enter it into a search engine or ask a handful of people you know about that topic or decision.Chances are that you will have a variety of different perspectives and answers. Experts, self-titled or otherwise, are literally available at your fingertips, day and night, night and day.
Whatever your understanding is about the times we now find ourselves living in, one thing is for sure: we do not lack information. If you don’t have some sort of an internal honing device on how to weed out and wade through all of it, one of two things usually occurs. You either give up after being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information thrown at you or you settle for whatever brand of wisdom best fits your own cognitive biases and lifestyle.
My internal moral compass or the scales with which I weigh any topic is the Bible. I believe that it is living, breathing, sharper than any two-edged sword, and able to cut between soul and spirit, joint and marrow, and exposes our innermost thoughts and desires (Hebrews 4:12). It teaches that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). It also instructs us that if any of us lack wisdom, we should ask God, who gives it generously to all without finding fault (James 1:5).
My understanding, therefore, is that if I live my life in awe of this great Creator God, Lord of the heavens and earth, then I don’t have to live my life in fear of anything or anyone else. I also have access to the same wisdom that was present at the foundation of the heavens and the earth because my God is not in the business of giving out anything less than that. His Spirit of Truth is my Comforter, Counselor, and Encourager, but it takes time and work on my part to stay connected to His Spirit.
What, then, does true Wisdom look like? Do I look to well-meaning leaders around me, both inside the Church and outside the Church or even to my own self-created moral compass? Is it possible to have biases with regards to “Wisdom”? How do I know if others and myself are being led by the Spirit or by our own sovereign god complexes which have been peddled to us since the third chapter of Genesis?
These are the thoughts that I’ve been wrestling with, but I woke up a few days ago with a sense that I needed to make a checklist on what “wisdom from above” looks like and then use it to gauge the veracity of any wisdom that comes from me or anyone else. I know for a fact that I am just as prone to creating my own brand of wisdom as everyone else I know.
The checklist was found in James 3:17: “But wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.” I have used this checklist almost daily since that morning a couple of weeks ago and it works every time…not only when I find myself waxing poetic in my own wisdom, but also when others are doing the same. If you’re like me and really need things explained like you’re a two year old, then I’m including some basic definitions here because believe me, I looked them up for myself.
Pure: not mixed, without unnecessary elements, free of any contamination
Peaceable: inclined to avoid argument or violent conflict
Gentle: mild, kind, of tender temperament or character; not harsh or severe (so hard for me)
Willing to yield: willing to bend or stretch easily; not rigid or stiff.
Mercy: compassion or forgiveness shown to someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm
Good fruits: Biblically speaking…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23)…fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8)
Partiality: unfair bias in favor of one thing or person compared to another
Hypocrisy: pretense; the practice of claiming to have moral standards to which one’s own behavior does not conform.
Friends, if you sit with this list and chew on it long enough, you cannot help but encounter the person of Jesus because ultimately He is Wisdom personified. I am at rest knowing that I don’t have to have all the answers to everything because at the end of the day, the only Person who has all the answers is as close to me as I want Him to be. My prayer is that these thoughts on Wisdom bring you as much peace, comfort, and joy as they have brought me recently.
Much love, Roshni.