Wisdom from above. Wisdom from God. What does it look like? This one sentence in James 3:17 lists seven facets of the wisdom that comes from heaven. The first three facets show the radical nature of following God. Let’s look at them one by one. However, before we start it is only fair to issue a warning to anyone who chooses to read further. Reading—and then implementing wisdom from heaven—will be hazardous to your flesh. It is simply not possible to take these words seriously and continue to live and speak just as you have been doing for years. The change may be painful, but it is the change of putting off what is old and destined for destruction anyway, and putting on that which is new and bound for heaven, where this wisdom originates. If you are not sure that you want the wisdom of heaven to shake up your life and your parenting, then please stop reading now. As Jesus told the Laodiceans, and as James stated in the first part of chapter 1 of his epistle, you can’t have it both ways. It is either God’s wisdom or yours; wanting both will result in a life of misery and doubt. If you want the wisdom from God that this verse speaks of, please listen to the warning James gives:
But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
Okay, are you ready? Have you asked God for courage to keep going? Good—let’s go for it.
Wisdom from above is, first of all, pure. This means that what is most important is doing what God wants and only what God wants, for his glory and honor. There are no mixed motives . Purity speaks of a heart fully devoted to God and his ways. Your spouse and children must see that your overriding desire is to have a pure, genuine heart that places God first. Your parenting must flow from your love of Christ and not your love of self. If you demonstrate purity, your children will come to see that you are not insisting on obedience because it pleases you, but because it pleases God.
Next, wisdom from above is peaceable. Think back over the last week. How has your spirit been with your children, with your husband or wife? If your family were asked, would they say you have been deeply committed to peace in your family? Remember, God knows that we are not perfect, so I know that your track record, even for a week, will not be a perfect one. But even so, have you been sufficiently committed to peace that those around you would quickly say that peaceableness has been your goal as you deal with them? If this is painful, remember that I warned you. But don’t stop now. You have asked God for the courage to change. He will be faithful to help you. If you want to practice the wisdom from above you must be about peace – so much so that your family will see and acknowledge it.
The next facet of God’s wisdom is gentleness. True gentleness expresses strength, confidence and power. Biblical gentleness is never a sign of weakness; rather, it is having the wisdom to use only the strength appropriate to the situation. If you commit to bring to your parenting only that which is from God, you will develop a deep confidence in the truth of his Word. Peace follows, because you know that what you are asking for is what God wants. That is how you become a person of peace even when you are doing battle for God. If there is purity and peace, then there can and must be gentleness. But this is gentleness that indicates a quiet confident strength – you know what God wants and are seeking him for the power to bring honor to him in spite of your own weakness.
It would be easy to write a lengthy post on each of the seven facets of wisdom in James 3:17. Perhaps at a later date, I will. But for now, take a hard, sincere look at godly wisdom. Purity, peace, and gentleness —do these belong to you as a parent? If not, God will powerfully answer your sincere, faithful prayer for this wisdom of his from above. It will change your life.
Next we will look at something that I was afraid of for years as a father of teenagers—I was afraid of being open to reason—not a good attitude, as I came to learn. But more on this in the next post. As always, I look forward to your comments.