No one wants to be foolish; we’d all like to be wise, and God makes it entirely possible for all of His children to be so, if we are willing to cooperate with Him.
First He promises to give us wisdom when we ask Him for it. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Second He describes clearly in James 3:17 what it means to be wise. We will look at this further.
Third, the Holy Spirit is constantly seeking to give us more wisdom through the Word, if we spend the time and energy to read, study and meditate on it. In Proverbs 8:34 wisdom says, “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.”
The question for us is, “Are we cooperating with God in being wise?” The first step is to recognize our need for heavenly wisdom and ask for it. If we are confident in our own wisdom, we will not seek His.
The second step is to know what heavenly wisdom looks like. Let’s look together at the description in James and see how human ideas of wisdom match up with this.
James 3:17 says: “…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. “
Note that at the beginning and end of this list are firm, directing, strong elements (purity, impartiality and sincerity) while in the middle are tender, merciful and gracious ones (peace loving, reasonable, submission, mercy and good fruit).
The tender parts without the firm ones will lead to mushy sentimentality and appeasement; the firm parts without the tender ones will lead to legalism and merciless demands. We need the whole spectrum of wisdom to be at work in our lives in order to have heavenly wisdom. It is a package, we are not given the option of picking and choosing.
Note also that these elements come in a certain order “First…then…” and so on. We need to be cultivating these qualities in the proper order, not jumping to the end without having laid the foundation for doing so.
God, in His usual fashion, has provided the elements needed for the foundation of wisdom and wants to work in partnership with us in building it. He can say “be wise” because He has prepared each element of wisdom for us to take up and use.
In the following parts of this article we will look at each part of heavenly wisdom.