Life is a race to be won, a battle to be fought and a legacy to be built. This can only be achieved through wisdom.
(1) Wisdom is supreme
Look at some of the ways that scripture describes wisdom.
Proverbs 8:11 – all that you desire cannot compare with wisdom!
Proverbs 4:7 – the beginning of wisdom is – get wisdom!
We tend to think of wisdom in terms of the intellect, however, in scripture, wisdom is of the heart, and the heart is the seat of desire and reason. Joy is bound up with wisdom, it is something for which we were made.
Biblical wisdom is best defined as insight into true reality, thinking God’s thoughts after him.
It is God-centred. In scripture, only those in relationship with God are described as being wise.
Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. Disciples (or students) of Jesus are meant both to study him and to know the times in which they are living.
We show our wisdom by good conduct (the Greek could be translated as “beautiful life”). Jesus is the perfect example of living in wisdom, always watching to see what the Father is doing.
(2) That which is not wisdom
Anything good will be counterfeited.
v. 14 speaks of the heart being orientated to self. Folly starts with a rejection of God and plays out in bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. There is something corrupt in the human heart which desires to see the downfall of others. Haman, in the book of Esther, is a good example of this. Jesus was put to death due to the bitter envy of the religious leaders.
James describes this kind of wisdom as demonic. We should remember that there are two falls, the fall of man, and the fall of Satan, which led to the fall of man. Satan is the world’s greatest example of sin corrupting thought.
Earthly wisdom is a form of religion, trying to provide for God with outward obedience, yet empty in the heart.
The result of these two false wisdoms (the earthly and the demonic) is disorder in life and every vile (that is “worthless” or “trivial”) practice.
True wisdom is found in humbling ourselves before God and receiving wisdom from him.
All of us are building for eternity. This life is not to be toyed with, it matters.
(3) Wisdom from above
Wisdom from above is undefiled.
Proverbs 1:7 and Psalm 111:10 both assert that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
To fear God is to recognise that God is God. Yet, for those who believe in Jesus we can approach the Father as beloved sons, because we are in Christ, and the fear which has to do with punishment (1 John 4:17-19) has been taken away. God’s way of bringing his wisdom to us is through the sacrifice of his Son.
Wisdom is a gift. We can receive wisdom by humbling ourselves and committing our lives to God. It is not worth holding on to anything in our lives which will stop us from receiving his wisdom.