A Different Kind of Wisdom
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James 3:17 says: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven [lit.: "from above"] is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
Like the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament, James offers precepts on life shaped by a divine wisdom. But, like Proverbs, this is not theory and certainly not esoteric knowledge–it is practical in every way. And it is the substance of spiritual leadership.
Here are the details, from James 3:
Wisdom that is “pure.” The people we deem to be extraordinarily wise probably are people who are relatively free of mixed motives, are not driven by personal ambition, and have generous, stable attitudes. This is the meaning of purity, and it is what makes some people open conduits of God’s wisdom. They don’t mess things up with themselves. They look you in the eye and see you for who you are and not who they want you to be for them. (Application: leadership that is pure has a moral and ethical clarity.)
Wisdom that is “peace-loving.” Wise people are driven by a longing for and belief in reconciliation. They know what happens when someone finds peace with God. They make every effort to bring people together, to promote forgiveness and forbearance. Their wisdom steers them away from superficial peace because they know that the only thing worth seeking is “the peace that passes all understanding.” (Application: leadership that is peace-loving will bring people together rather than dividing and conquering.)
Wisdom that is “considerate.” This is not mere politeness. It is a core characteristic of God in the Old Testament–the king who cares at the same time that he rules. (Application: leadership that is considerate is always humane–like God.)
Wisdom that is “submissive.” This is not weakness, but the willingness to yield. It is the teachable attitude, the cooperative spirit, the opposite of obstinate self-confidence. (Application: leadership that is submissive is always improving because it is open to learning and changing.)
Wisdom that is “full of mercy and good fruit.” Wisdom is not passive. It propels people toward action, but not just any action. Wisdom gives us a vision to see real human need and to help those in need in practical acts of mercy. (Application: leadership that is full of mercy and good fruit is a gift to humanity.)
Wisdom that is “impartial.” In a world where privilege, status, and connections are the ways many people get ahead, wisdom rejects the games and renounces favoritism. The unselfish character of wisdom is why it is impartial. (Application: leadership that is impartial raises everyone above the seedy side of human manipulation.)
Wisdom that is “sincere.” Anhypokirtos. “Without hypocrisy.” The last thing anyone needs is people who depict themselves as wise, some of them setting themselves up as the gurus of society, but are personally disconnected from the high principles they teach. The word “hypocrite” means “actor.” And today there is more than one theater for actors to put on their show. The impersonal two-dimensions of the television screen, the words and images on the latest social networking website, and the embossed jackets of hardcover books are ready-made stages. And what is played may be sincere, or it may be utterly false. (Application: leadership that is sincere is conspicuously honest, and thus able to engender trust and ultimately achieve higher purposes.)
What are ways that you seek this type of wisdom in your life?
This entry was posted on Thursday, May 19th, 2011 at 8:51 am and is filed under Spiritual Influence.
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