But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity). Jame 3:17
We make many decisions everyday. Some mundane, some quite important. For the practicing believer, it is our desire to make decisions that would please God. And so we go to him and ask for wisdom just as He has asked us to do. Having prayed for wisdom however, we often still have more than one idea about what course of action we should take, so the question arises therefore about how we can tell which of the options is the one God is asking us to take.
This uncertainty that we sometimes experience is apparently why God’s wisdom comes with a verification code. When God sends us wisdom, he sends along a set of codes with which to verify that what we have received is indeed from Him; sort of like God’s multi-factor authentication.
First of all Pure
God says that if an idea came from Him, the first thing we will notice about it is the purity of the idea. As such, what proves that an idea is from God is not that it is merely good, but that it is pure. There are many good ideas that we entertain everyday that are nevertheless not God’s ideas. The purity of an idea refers to the motive driving it. So for instance, 1 Cor 13:3 points out that it is possible to be a great, and sacrificial philanthropist and do all of that with less that godly motives. What authenticates a course of action as being directed by God therefore is that the motive is fundamentally pure.
God will not in one breathe tell us to “pursue peaceful coexistence with all men”(Hebrews 12:14), and also give us ‘wisdom’ that negates this instruction. If an idea is from God, it will not hinder us from heeding the exhortation that says “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18. For context, this admonition is not about living in peace with nice neighbours, it is talking about difficult people. What it says is… 14 Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone. (Romans 12:14,17). Indeed, the servant of the Lord must not strive.
Again, the wisdom that is from God does not puff a man up – that is mere earthly wisdom borne of sensual knowledge. The wisdom from above is “willing to yield to reason.” 1 Corinthians 8:1 says that knowledge makes a man arrogant. Such a man is now destitute of the truth that says “we know in part and we prophesy in part.” If we believe a course of action to be inspired by God and we are also unwilling to listen to perspective from believers with a good testimony, we may be full, not of wisdom from above, but of hot air – puffed up.
Wisdom is different from mere knowledge. The wisdom of God that comes from above is full of compassion and good deeds. To ask for and receive wisdom without acting on it is to be deluded. The bible says that those who receive the wisdom of the word (hearers) and don’t do what it says are deceiving no one but themselves. ie. They are deluded. The Wisdom from above impels us to action.
So what are you seeking wisdom for today? Have you received wisdom but doubts still linger? What you must do now is check your motive; evaluate the impact of that course of action on the peace that God calls us to; check that the ideas you are about to pursue aren’t filling you with arrogance; and then act. Act wholeheartedly.