To the trained ear, a voice from the distant past still sends it message today: “Wisdom is the principal thing … get wisdom!” (Prov 4:7). Increasingly we feel the need for wisdom in our attempts to live for God and to fulfill whatever service and responsibility He has given to us.
James reminds us of the need for wisdom as we pass through trials (James 1:5). This is not the ability to see the “why” and “what” of the trial; it is the ability to see “Who” amidst the trial. It is the capacity to know God and to emerge from the “trial of your faith” with a deeper appreciation of Who He is.
We need wisdom, as well, in the manner in which we treat others. James 2 is all about holding the “faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glory,” in a consistent manner. While the issue of social class distinction is raised in James 2, we must be sensitive to the myriad of other ways in which we can “mistreat” other believers. Far more saints leave assemblies over personality clashes and hurt feelings than over doctrinal issues. Saul wondered why David’s seat was empty, ignoring the reality that he himself was the cause (1Sam 20:25-27).
When we arrive at chapter 3, James addresses the danger of seeking to display our wisdom by our words. He opts for wisdom displayed in works and ways (3:13). He reminds us of what the wisdom from above is like. It is pure and contains no malice, envying, strife, or bitterness. It is free of any taint of mixed motive. As a result of its being pure, it is also “peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits” (3:17).
Pause here and consider how this wisdom was displayed in its perfection in the only Man Who could control His tongue. Think of the uniqueness of all His utterances in their motive and manner. When you are done worshiping at the thought, then move on to its application to us.
Crucial to our appreciation of the value of wisdom is James’ final comment: “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (3:18). Where the “wisdom that is from above” is manifested, the result is peace. In that environment, righteous character is furthered amongst the believers. An assembly blessed with wisdom in leadership is an assembly where there is arable and fertile soil for growth among the saints.
The wisdom spoken by James is characterized, as well, as being “gentle and easy to be entreated.” It is approachable. A young believer should be able to approach a leader with any issue and not fear scorn or recrimination. Paul exhorted the believers by the “meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2Cor 10:1). He was gentle in all His ways and with all who came to Him. Can we be less?