Wisdom From Above

Bible Book: James  3 : 17-18
Subject: Wisdom, God's; Wisdom; Peacemakers

The book of James has a way of causing me to love the Proverbs more dearly.

We read in Proverbs 2:6-8:

“For the LORD gives wisdom;

From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;

He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;

He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;

He guards the paths of justice,

And preserves the way of His saints.”

James makes it clear that “wisdom from above” cannot be known apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, Who is Himself, “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). James serves not only as a practical theologian, but also he is the master of contradicting principles; the book of James is loaded with the conjunction “but.” In these two verses, James gives the most comprehensive commentary on wisdom.

I. THE FIRST IN WISDOM.

3:17

“But the wisdom that is from above…” remember, not an attainment of a man, but a gift of God; not acquired, but applied. This wisdom is contrasted to that which “does not descend from above.”

3:15 “is first pure” – being followed by “then” leads us to take “pure” to be a motive for godly wisdom rather than a characteristic as James will list seven. The motivation for this “wisdom from above” is motivated by purity. Its primary quality is purity. It is pure in the sense of being undefiled, morally pure. Speaks of:

1. Spiritual Integrity

2. Moral Sincerity

This purity comes when one has been cleansed by Christ’s blood, Who is Himself pure (the very same word is used in 1 John 3:3), has received Christ’s purity, and as a result, is leading a morally pure life. This person’s heart is pure in its unmixed devotion to God. This carries the idea of being pure in one’s focus on God, concentrating on serving Him. It involves moral purity before God and devotional purity in one’s focus on Him.

“Wisdom being pure is the key to all the qualities of wisdom to follow. It is the overarching attribute. The authenticity and intensity of one’s purity determines the outworking of the other qualities of wisdom.” Kent Hughes

This principle teaches that all who possess it are to make perfect purity in one’s moral and devotional life a primary goal. The Christian who wants to live in wisdom can ask no better question regarding his thoughts, words, actions, and devotion than, “Am I pure?”

Pure – clean, innocent, holy, sanctification (evidence that follows).

Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they shall see God.”

II. THE FEATURES OF WISDOM.

3:17

A. PEACEABLE.

Peace loving; external features that flow from its pure character. It promotes peace; right relationship between man and God, and man and man. Comes from the root “at one.”

Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they shall be called sons of God.”

This person does not perpetrate conflict by their selfishness, but produces peace by their humility.

(Phil 2:1-4)

James is not recommending a peace that depends on walking away from conflict. Rather, he is commending a peaceful spirit; resting in your work/battle. At times you may make “waves” because of a Biblical principle that is at stake, but ordinarily they refrain from turbulence and rejoice in making peace.

Ephesians 4:3, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Romans 14:19, ‘Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”

Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

B. GENTLE.

Considerate, it is forbearing, yielding to another, does not insist on their own rights. Matthew Henry calls it sweet reasonableness. Referred to as the most untranslatable word in the list. Not harsh or critical. One that can submit to dishonor and abuse, mistreatment and persecution.

Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake,

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’’

It describes the kind of person who, though wronged and possessing the “right” not to bend, nevertheless forgoes his rights. The man or woman with this quality makes allowances for the weaknesses and ignorance of others and takes the kindest perspective whenever possible.

C. WILLING TO YIELD.

“easy to be entreated” – submissive; willing to submit to persuasion or open to reason. A teachable, open spirit. Obedient; willing to learn; ready to cooperate. Conciliatory, ready to be convinced, compliant and not stubborn.

D. FULL OF MERCY.

Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful,

for they shall obtain mercy.”

The believer who is “full of mercy” evidences his saving faith and transformed life, not only by forgiving those who have wronged him, but by reaching out to help them in whatever ways are needed. Being like the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), being concerned and compassionate for anyone who is suffering or who needs any kind of support. Compassion in action; it doesn’t just break your heart, it puts you to work in helping.

To be “rich in mercy”

Ephesians 2:4, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us”

It means to be controlled by mercy, to have mercy in abundant measure; it leads to practical helps. It is merciful toward people in trouble, even when they do not deserve it, a spirit of concern that seeks to provide for the needy. It is the way God deals with us.

TRUTH: This person makes for a great friend.

E. FULL OF GOOD FRUITS.

Good deeds (not say, but show), good actions. Not just leaves but fruit; not mere words of empty boasting. Plural suggests variety of fruits, good deeds of many kinds. As fruits are expected and desired of a good tree, so are deeds expected of wisdom.

John 15:4-5, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

‘I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.’”

Ephesians 5:9, “for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth”

You demonstrate your genuine faith by your authentic good words; it is exemplifying the fruit of the Spirit.

F. WITHOUT PARTIALLITY.

To distinguish, unwavering, without variance, free from vacillation, undivided, whole-hearted loyalty in contrast to an inconsistent mouth that blesses and curses (3:9-10). Impartial, unwavering conviction, undivided loyalty to the truth. No favoritism, steady, taking one position in one circumstance and another in a different situation. It operates on consistent principle.

“God, in His wisdom, never allows Himself to be swayed by the size of a person’s bankbook, the color of his skin, from which side of the tracks he comes, or the number of letters he can put after his name. Nor should we.” John Phillips

E. WITHOUT HYPOCRISY.

Sincere, never play-acts. What you see is what you get. No masks, no feigned sincerity, no pretense.

2 Corinthians 1:12, “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.”

Un-hypocritical; when man’s wisdom is at work, there is insincerity; when God’s wisdom is at work, there is honesty.

III. THE FRUIT OF WISDOM.

3:18

The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. You may say that seed is sown, not fruit; but, it is possible that James had in mind the idea of fruit being harvested and then, in part, becoming seed, which is re-sown in peace, as it were, and produces still more fruit, and so on, the familiar cycle of growing and reaping. Seed represents godly wisdom, whose fruit is righteousness. Godly wisdom produces a continuing cycle of righteousness which is planted and harvested in a peaceful, harmonious relationship between God and His faithful people, and between those people themselves.

Isaiah 32:17, “The work of righteousness will be peace,

and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”

God’s wisdom is not only displayed for others, but it is also delivered to others.

We are not to sow the seeds of righteousness, but the fruit of righteousness. God sows seeds of righteousness in our lives. By obedience and cooperation with the Holy Spirit, we work out what God works in and we bear fruit for the Kingdom of God and the glory of the Lord.

Fruit is the product of life, and fruit has in it the seeds for more fruit.

Peacemakers who sow in peace, raise a harvest of righteousness. The sense is: peacemakers produce in the atmosphere of peace they create, the harvest (fruit) of righteousness. Righteousness can only grow in a climate of peace.