What is wisdom?

Here we are, thinking all week about wisdom — and what exactly is wisdom? 

Scripture makes it clear that there is a false wisdom, touted by the world. Then there is true wisdom, with God as its source, embodied in Jesus, and, yes!, available to God’s children.

James, who writes so much about how our faith and hope show up in daily living, gives us vivid pictures of how these two “wisdoms” act. (There are some pretty strong words here!)

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.

But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
(James 3:13-17)

His description of the pure wisdom from above sounds a lot like the agape love in 1 Corinthians 13, doesn’t it?

And as I reflect on both this description of wisdom and Paul’s description of love, I see how far from the mark I am. Those attributes of wisdom are not describing me.

At least, not the me that God first adopted and took under His wing and gave His name to.

But, as His child now, I am learning His ways. Did you see that clue in the first sentence? If you are wise and understand God’s ways …

How about this as a definition of wisdom: The ability to see things as God’s sees things, to think His thoughts, and to act and speak accordingly.

Is that presumptuous? Sacrilegious? Is it too bold to hope that we can understand God’s ways, when He has said that His thoughts and ways are so far above ours?

I don’t think so. Not if God keeps His promises.

And I’m convinced He does.

Come back tomorrow, and I’ll tell you about the certainty of my hope.


Psalm Prayer:

Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
(Psalm 119:34)


© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

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