“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17
Occasionally, during a sermon, a thought will get lodged between my ears that I can’t shake. Sometimes I will attempt to articulate it. Other times, I will keep it to myself and meditate on it. This morning, I attempted the former… unfortunately, with little clarity. The passage was James 3:17. I was struck by how James describes “wisdom from above” as both “open to reason” and “impartial and sincere.” While being open to reason is fairly obvious, impartial and sincere are two words that James has used to describe an unwavering, resolute faith. How can Godly wisdom be open to reason and, at the same time, unwavering?
I think the answer is self-contained. Godly wisdom, or wisdom that is from above, is able to discern between matters of “first importance” (cf. 1 Cor 15) and secondary and tertiary matters. Godly wisdom knows where to draw the line in the sand. Contextually, James was addressing teachers within the congregation that were theologically orthodox but had never experienced the grace of God for themselves (cf. 1:22, 2:19, 3:1). Their worldly wisdom was cloaked in theological jargon and was an insidious cancer leading to a life of ungodliness. Contra this pseudo-wisdom, the wisdom from above is not self-seeking. No, it is marked by a spirit of reasonableness. And yet, at the same time, it is unwavering in it’s commitment to the Gospel.
I suppose the reason that the Holy Spirit illuminated this to my heart is this: I want to be that person. I want to be the kind of person that is both resolved and reasonable. This is Godly wisdom. This is wisdom from above. This is an operation of the Spirit of God. With unwavering resolve, we proclaim the finished work of Christ. With open-mindedness, we love our neighbors in winsome and peaceable ways. Isn’t this the example of Jesus? Was he unwavering? Of course! Was he reasonable? Of course! Ultimately, Christ is the wisdom of God. And, frankly, I just want to be more like him.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Matthew S. Rickett