Monday, December 3, 2012
Wisdom Part II
By Hayley Boud
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, By deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom…the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, Then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, Full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” James 3:13, 17
“Let him show”
The verse says that we should show our wisdom by the actions we do in “humility”. So we don’t have to tell people we are wise, they will discover it by themselves through our good actions. They will see by your wise decisions, by your transformed life, by the words you choose in everyday situations and they will discover you are wise without you having to tell them.
It’s not just the deeds we do that need to be good but our whole life: our character, our personality. A good life is someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit and this is proven by the good fruits they possess, “love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, goodness, gentleness and kindness Do my actions reflect wisdom or foolishness? Does my life reflect the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
What are our deeds or works? The bible says that faith without works is dead/useless (James 2:20,26). For example, if I’m the leader on Wednesday, I know that if I spend the time reading the Bible, meditating and reflecting on a particular verse and working out exactly what I will say, my works will prove how wise I am because I will lead with confidence and I’ll have something to say that has depth and meaning.
“Wisdom that comes from heaven”
So what is the wisdom that comes from heaven? It is “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”. This is the wisdom that comes from heaven.
According to the Greek dictionary pure means not selfish or proud, free from defilements or impurities. For example, pure gold is only gold, nothing else, no impurities. What can defile us or what are our impurities....sin....negative thoughts, judgements, selfishness, rudeness.
Mathew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure for they will see God”.
Wisdom that comes from heaven (not wisdom as the world thinks of wisdom) doesn’t have any impurities: it won’t have any selfish desires or biases and it won’t cause someone to stumble, it won’t be motivated by self-interest or pride, it is humble and clean of sin.
For example, my neighbour is having a party and playing loud music, so I go and ask him to turn down the music but am I thinking about myself or the neighbour? If I were going to see my neighbour because I care about him and I want help him in some way..good..but if my motivation is my own desires...not so good.
So if I believe I am wise because I am clever or people have told me I am wise....I have to ask myself, “is this wisdom from the world or from heaven?” and the only way to know that is to ask myself whether my decisions or my heart is pure.
Wisdom from heaven is “Peaceable” which means it brings about peace. Wisdom from man doesn’t always bring peace but sometimes causes fights or jealousy or complaints or anger or revenge. I hear people all the time thinking they are wise with their words of “wisdom” but their words only destroy, they don’t build at all. Most of the time these people create destruction with their words and have no idea what they have done because they are too proud to recognise it. They think they are so clever and they genuinely think they are helping but they are not bringing peace to the situation at all and most of the time they make a situation worse.
e.g. one time I told a friend in confidence about a situation that happened to me in a church prayer group I was going to. I confided in my friend believing it would be kept between me and her. In her ‘wisdom’ she went and talked to the prayer leaders to find out their position. This destroyed any chance of me being able to return to the prayer group as the leaders found I had no discretion and could not keep my mouth quiet and rightfully thought I should have talked to them without disclosing the fact to others. It also destroyed my trust in this friend and I never ever confided in her again. She believed she was wise because she thought she could get to the bottom of the issue and sort it out but she proved she was foolish because revealing someone’s secret is to bring war not peace. We have to ask ourselves in each situation...will my decision to do this help to bring peace or will it just cause more disharmony?
Solomon is a good example – he took the baby and said to the two mothers who were fighting over who the baby belonged to, “I’ll cut it in half so you can have half each”. When one woman said, “no, she can keep the baby, don’t cut it in half”, everybody knew the baby must belong to her as she spoke as a mother would. Everybody was happy with Solomon’s intervention and it brought peace on every side. That’s true wisdom, from God when we are able to bring peace into a situation.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” Mathew 5:9
We know that the gospel of peace in Ephesians 6:15 is referring to salvation because it brings reconciliation (peace) between us and God, and therefore peacemakers bring peace between God & those around us and between people and each other.
Other versions say “Peace loving”: some people are the opposite of peace loving. Some people love to disturb and bring annoyance wherever they go and they purposefully disturb the peace. I think of Paul Henry on tvnz who some people just hate because of that while others find it entertaining. Of course, it’s good tv but it’s not good in reality to be disturbed and annoyed. As Christians we should try our best not to annoy others and be sensitive to those around us and do our best to keep situations peaceful. If someone is easily annoyed, then don’t do the things that annoy them.
“Considerate” or “Gentle”
“But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” 1 Thessalonians 2:7
A mum will bathe her baby very gently, washing away the dirt very softly and kindly, she doesn’t scrub hard or the baby might get hurt and she holds the baby carefully in her arms and won’t let the baby fall or drown. That is what a wise person does for others. They hold people in their hands and care for their souls with great care and gentleness. When the person is in a mistake they find the right way to help them, gently and softly so they can be cleansed but not harmed. A wise person never points the finger, “you are this” but talks kindly and through conversation helps the person to discover for themselves.
Eg. a worship leader once told one of the back-up singers to smile more when she sings which went down like a lead balloon. The person felt very discouraged because it was like a finger being pointed at her and it was like she was being told she was not doing a good job. Immediately the back-up singer became defensive, “I did smile”, “no you didn’t”, “yes I did” and it became an argument and then the worship leader said, “even the pastor said you didn’t smile”. Now the pastor is involved...where is wisdom?
A better strategy would have been for the leader to say, “you look so stunning when you smile” and this would have encouraged the back-up singer to smile more. This is a good strategy because when we help someone without pointing the finger...they can much more easily accept and they are cleaned without scrubbing.
Anyway, is it a sin not to smile? Sometimes people pick the wrong battles. They focus on the unimportant and leave what’s really important. If not smiling isn’t a sin...then is it really worth destroying a person’s joy? That back-up singer left the worship team stating that she was too busy but I’m sure if the worship leader had been more wise, the back-up singer would not have left.
Sometimes a wise person doesn’t say anything at all, they might just observe and pray and the person might discover without having to be told. I have seen this happen so many times. I have seen a person in a mistake and I have decided to wait and I won’t say anything until I see them make the mistake more than three times. Usually they fix the problem themselves without me having to say anything.
Proverbs 15:1 (written by the wisest man ever), “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger”.
I Corinthians 4:21, “what do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip or in love with a gentle spirit”.
What would you prefer? Therefore, whatever I would prefer...I should do for others. This takes time and effort because we must first pray and ask God for wisdom and then we have to seek a very good strategy and then we have to remember to take small steps, slowly, slowly lead people to righteousness...not to expect people to change everything all at once.
Being considerate means we shoe concern for others and genuinely care about them, putting ourselves in their shoes and thinking of them first. This is to show true wisdom. If I am not able to put myself in the shoes of others, then I don’t have true wisdom that comes from heaven and if I’m not able to find good strategies to help people to mature in Christ with kindness and gentleness then I don’t have wisdom from God.
Next time we will cover the rest of the verse, “submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”. For now, just remember that we want wisdom from God which is first of all pure (without sin, pride and selfishness), it is peace-loving (bringing peace between people and God and people and others) & gentle/considerate (caring for other’s souls, cleaning them softly without harsh words or actions).