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Wisdom from Above

FAITH AT WORK: Devotions through the book of James

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17, ESV) 

Contrasted with demonic wisdom is wisdom from above (Jas. 3:15). James gives us a bio of genuine wisdom that has its source in God. 

He begins by describing genuine wisdom as pure, even giving purity a position of first importance. We might think of purity in terms of chastity where we are fully and exclusively devoted to God. Everything about us is sacred, set apart as holy to our God. That’s how wisdom operates from the perspective of the fear of the Lord. Purity contrasts with what is defiled. 

From the starting point of purity the operating system of wisdom works itself out in all the fruit of saving faith forged by the Spirit of God and founded in the person of Christ. Gentleness serves well as a trait of the tongue. Listen to how Paul uses gentle as a governor to our speech: “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2). 

Rather than being presumptuous and pig-headed, wisdom from above will lead us in being “open to reason.” Involved in this are a readiness to listen, a slowness to speak, and a willingness to be persuaded. 

James suggests the image of a rich crop cultivated by the grace of God, one abounding in mercy, resplendent with good fruit, diverse with an impartiality that leaves room for the diversity of God’s image-bearers, and producing fruit that is authentic, abounding, and abiding. 

Such is the kingdom crop sown by wisdom from above that loves God and neighbor. James lifts our eyes to the harvest we can expect: “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18). It brings to mind the words of God through the prophet Hosea: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12). Righteousness sown will yield a harvest of righteousness. 

It all begins with setting our eyes on God and seeking His glory. We want to sow in our minds and in our relationships what we want to harvest in our lives. The seed we reach to scatter must be taken from the bag marked “wisdom from above,” not “wisdom that is demonic.” Both stand open before us. 

1. What are the hallmarks of wisdom from above?

2. What will produce a harvest of righteousness? 

“Spirit of the living God, form Christ in me.”

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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