Who Is Wise?

James 3:13-18 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. 

One who can bridle his own tongue and is qualified to teach others are seen in the Word as a wise man. True wisdom is always accompanied with meekness and gentleness. Scholars however are sometimes proud, overbearing, and disdainful. Such men have education, but not true wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and strife in your heart – someone always seeking recognition and are quick to argue to prove your point, you don’t have true wisdom. Even if you defend religion, you are false in your profession and lie against the truth.

There are eight characteristics of false wisdom mentioned: Bitter envying, strife in the heart (v14, 16), glory in profession (v14), earthly-minded, having only this life in view, sensual, living only to satisfy the animal appetites, devilish, inspired by demons (v15), living in constant confusion and every evil work (v16).

And eight characteristics of divine wisdom mentioned: to be pure – chaste, holy and clean; peaceable (Heb. 12:14); gentle – meek, modest, and kind; easily entreated – not stubborn or obstinate, but yielding to others. To be full of mercy – always forgiving and performing acts of kindness; full of good fruits; without partiality – having no respect of persons (Jas. 2:1-10); without hypocrisy – open, honest, genuine, and true.

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace refers to those living in right-standing with God that will always abide in His peace no matter what your circumstances are (John 14:27; Php 4:7).