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by Frederick Drummond, Sr.
One of the most powerful New Testament discourses on heavenly wisdom and the righteousness it produces was written by James, the brother of Jesus (James 3:13-4:12). It is a revelation of Kingdom living at its best, and it goes against how our hedonistic society lives. What is most interesting to me is where you end up when you live by God’s wisdom—creating an environment of peace. To put it the way James explains it, “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18).
This Scripture is wedged between a discourse on heavenly wisdom that descends from above (vv. 13-18) and earthly wisdom that ascends from below (4:1-12). It really reduces wise living to one common denominator—meekness versus pride. Having defined the origin of these two kinds of wisdom, let us return to the Scriptures and see how he introduces heavenly wisdom from above, which is humble, and earthly wisdom from below, which is proud.
Of the proof of heavenly wisdom he has this to say: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13). He then goes on to remind all that heavenly wisdom requires heart preparation. To move in it you must expel (1) bitter envy, (2) self-seeking, and (3) boasting, which is a lie against the truth (v. 14). Motivated by these, he says, your wisdom will be full of “confusion and every evil thing” (v. 16). He then goes on to give us a short and concise definition of the eight sides of heavenly wisdom. It is (1) first pure, (2) then peaceful, (3) gentle, (4) willing to yield, (5) full of mercy (6) and good fruits, (7) without partiality, and (8) without hypocrisy (v. 17). Thus James brings the reader full circle, concluding that heavenly wisdom is “the fruit of righteousness . . . sown in peace by those who make peace” (v. 18). Of course this conclusion ought not to come as a surprise to us, because our Savior is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and Kingdom living is based on righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17).
But on the other hand, the wisdom of the earth “does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic” (v. 15). Furthermore, James reminds us that it produces “wars and fights . . . among you,” all of which emanate from carnal living (4:1). Shockingly, he says of certain Christians, “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war” (v. 2). What a stark contrast to the peaceful living that heavenly wisdom produces.
His conclusion on the matter is just as surprising. He says that those who use earthly wisdom are proud and that God resists them, whereas those who humble themselves receive all of the grace they need from God to move in the peace His wisdom produces (v. 6). Actually, in the ensuing verses he gets down and dirty and starts labeling those who use earthly wisdom as people whose biggest problem is that they refuse to submit to God and His way of doing things and have already submitted to the devil and his methodology. And what is his advice to them? (1) Resist the devil, (2) draw near to God, (3) cleanse your hands, (4) purify your hearts, (5) lament your behavior, (6) humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up, and (7) do not speak evil of one another, brethren (4:7-11).
A good look at the fruit of righteousness and what it always produces is a sober wake-up call. It is a reminder to every one of us who have made Jesus their Lord that unless the wisdom we are living by produces peace, we should reevaluate its origin. God is not only concerned about what we are doing, but He is also interested in why we are doing it. With Him the end never justifies the means. Christian, He wants your wisdom to come from heaven, and this is going to take more faith in God than yourself. May He help us all to make the transfer from trusting in how we see things and what we have learned from our sojourn here on earth, to how things operate in heaven. Our churches should be full of heavenly wisdom, showing off the peace of doing things God’s way. They should be living proof that doing so brings down His blessings to enjoy.