Friday, January 20, 2023

The Meekness of Wisdom (James 3:13)


Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. [James 3:13, ESV]

The Bible is replete with passages that tell us of the value that wisdom holds, and how we must seek the Lord in order to receive wisdom. In James 1, we read about how we are to ask the Lord for wisdom, how He will give wisdom to those who ask for it, and how He provides wisdom to us “without reproach”. We also read about how we must ask God in faith when we seek His wisdom. James tells us how we should not expect to receive anything from the Lord if we do not ask Him with faith.

Based on what we know about wisdom, let us examine James 3:13 as if we have asked God for wisdom, we have asked Him in faith, and the Lord has given us the wisdom that we have sought from Him. We received the wisdom that we asked God for, and now we are to exercise that wisdom in the way that James lays out for us here.

He begins verse 13 with a question: “Who is wise and understanding among you?” Anybody who would reply to James’ question by saying, “It is I, James!” would immediately prove that he is unwise, or that his wisdom has not come from the Lord (the difference between demonic wisdom and God’s wisdom will be described in the next two essays, respectively).

If we have received wisdom, if we have understanding, then we are to demonstrate our wisdom and understanding by way of our works. Just as James described to us the way our faith should produce works, here he describes the way that wisdom should produce works that demonstrate wisdom.

What kind of works must one produce when he has received wisdom? Following his question, James tells us that we should demonstrate our wisdom through a life that reflects the wisdom that we have received. If God has given me wisdom, I should live a life that glorifies Him, that is filled with acts that demonstrate the wisdom that God has given to me, and that shares wisdom with others.

The final portion of verse 13 that we will examine is the part where James describes the “meekness of wisdom”. What does James mean by this? When God gives us wisdom, that wisdom will produce in each of us a humble spirit. When we do good works, when we live lives that glorify God, and when we do everything with the humility that comes with godly wisdom, we can demonstrate that we are wise and understanding.

In general, it seems like those who need to remind others of their strengths are often the weakest among us. A strong man does not need to convince others that he is strong, by his works he will demonstrate his strength. A kind man does not need to convince others that he is kind, he needs only to demonstrate his kindness in what he says and does. A wise man does not need to convince others of his wisdom, he only needs to demonstrate his wisdom by way of humility and good works.

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