Wisdom: A word that can be hard to define, especially in the culture that we currently live in.
Lately, I have been considering what it means to be “wise in the sight of God,” or how to differentiate between godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. Recently I was promoted to a leadership role at my job, and I have found myself seeking God about what it means to be a godly servant leader. One thing God is showing me is that servant leadership requires seeking Him for wisdom in humility. In light of this, my question is “what does godly wisdom look like?”
First, Read the whole third chapter of the book of James for context. Let’s focus on the last few verses, specifically James 3:13-18:
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
God was providing a prescription for what it looks like to have godly wisdom vs worldly wisdom! Try rereading James 3:17, but insert the opposite of each word to build a stark contrast in meaning:
|Godly wisdom||Wordly wisdom|
|Pure||Selfish ambition, jealous, impure|
|Open to reason||Closed to reason, selfish, does insist on its own way|
|Full of mercy||Full of legalism, full of wrath|
|Good fruits||Rotten fruits|
|Sincere||False, dishonest, boasting|
Based off this contrast, it is easier to differentiate between godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. Wisdom from above is peaceful (James 3:17) while worldly wisdom is chaotic and disorderly (James 3:18). Also, to answer the question, “what does godly wisdom look like?” let’s look to Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” The Hebrew of this word “fear” is yir’ah which means (of God) to respect, revere and be pious towards. Fearing the Lord means having a reverent, fearful awe of the almighty God.