17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. 18 And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3: 17-18 RSV
What does it mean to be wise? A dictionary definition typically says it is “having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right.” Wisdom then, at least in part, is knowledge of what is true or right and with it, “just judgement as to action.” There are also books of wisdom, the Bible being one of them, and others as well, some religious, others secular. You can boil this down to the simple phrase, “being wise is knowing what the right thing is to do in a given situation.” We can call this common wisdom.
But James speaks of the wisdom from above, which goes so much further. Look at the words he uses; pure, peaceable, gentle, full of mercy, certain, sincere, and open to reason. Are these the words we typically associate with something as mundane as “making a good decision”? No, these are words which are suited to love, for wisdom from above cannot go against the law of God, the law to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
To me the prime example of being wise and just, and of sowing peace, is that of Jesus with the adulteress who was about to be stoned. He told her accusers that the one among them who was without sin should cast the first stone. And one by one they examined their hearts and walked away. After her accusers left, he simply said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11) And she did. Both her accusers and the woman became wiser that day. And that was a true harvest of righteousness.
PRAYER: O Father in heaven, help us always to seek your will. Help us always to love and embrace the wisdom from above, and to emulate the examples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And in all things, accept that your will be done. AMEN.
Authored by: Jeffery D. Kooistra