Final thoughts on James 3:13-18
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. NKJV
In verses 1-12, James exhorted us to lead a blameless life through a controlled tongue. In today’s text, James starts by asking the question, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” and then responds by essentially saying that if anyone really is wise and has understanding, then let him or her show proof of it.
The Lord tells us in this passage that there are two types of wisdom; Heavenly wisdom that is from God and worldly wisdom. The worldly wisdom is described in verses 14-16 “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
The fruit of worldly wisdom is bitter envy (a harsh, resentful attitude of the success of others) and selfish ambitions and is generated by the forces of Satan. The person with worldly wisdom focuses on what they can gain from others more than what they can give to or do for others. The Lord tells us in verse 16 that because worldly wisdom is motivated by envy and selfish ambitions it always produces discord and falsehood. Another fruit of worldly wisdom is pride which God opposes (James 4:6). It is a terrible thing to be in opposition to God.
The other wisdom is heavenly wisdom. Heavenly wisdom comes from God and is described in verse 17 as “pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”
God’s wisdom is full of humility; ready to confess and repent from sin and ask for forgiveness and to bring solutions to people’s issues and problems. It seeks the good of others more than self. It is what brings peace in hostile circumstances. The wise will always be slow to speak but quick to listen and their response will be worthwhile. Wise people are always submissive, not only to God but to others, respecting their thoughts and desires without trying to dominate them. Wise people are considerate, caring about the affairs and needs of others more than their own. They are merciful, always willing to go the extra mile for the sake of others without unrighteous judgment or vengeance. Wise people are sincere and worthy of trust, always speaking the truth in love. Finally, wise people are full of good fruit (the fruit of the Holy Spirit described in Gal 5:22-23) and which is so essential for pleasing the Lord and being a good Christian testimony to others.
According to James 1:5, this is the kind of wisdom that we should desire to have and which we should ask for in prayer and which our Heavenly Father will be faithful to give to us.