Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.James 3:13-18 (ESV)
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.
In a mere six verses James shifts the wisdom paradigm in the minds of Christians. James dismantles the erroneous and destructive understanding of our world’s wisdom and replaced it with a vivid and clear understanding of true wisdom. He challenges believers to measure their lives and attitudes by humility, peace, sincerity, purity, and reasonableness; not by the things the world praises and esteems. He makes us aware that what is often perceived as wisdom is not really true wisdom at all.
As believers we cannot simply agree, simply “go along” with the way in which the world conducts itself. We know of a better way. We know a better wisdom. We know a better Source of wisdom.
There are ultimately only two kinds of wisdom. There is the world’s wisdom which is limited in scope, finite in perspective, and used by Satan to deceive many about what this life is all about. This wisdom is a terrible imitation of true wisdom as it is focussed on self and brings out the worst in mankind.
Then there is the wisdom from above, promised to all who ask for it in faith. This wisdom is the daily insight needed to pursue peace in broken relationships, the knowledge of how to be gentle when provoked, the humility to be reasonable in your preferences, the fairness to show mercy to others in light of the mercy you received from God, the eagerness to do good at all times, the kindness to show the same respect to all men, and the integrity to be consistent without any selfish motives.
A wise man is known, not by his words or actions alone, but by the attitude of his self-controlled humility.