In this passage we find James telling us there are 2 kinds of wisdom: that which is based on experience and education (i.e., of the world) and the wisdom that is from above. James does not fully condemn what I would call life experiences, instead, he continues the theme from the beginning of the book…in whom do we trust? Ourselves? Or, the wisdom from above – do we wholly trust God and his perfect gift…the word of truth because it supplies the wisdom necessary for life that is “mature and complete” (v1:4).
When I worked for Exelon, a common phrase then, and in corporate America, was “walking the talk”…interestingly, I think this is exactly what James was pointing out to his readers then and us today – only the talk is not corporate talk but CORPORATE talk – God’s Word in our lives by the Holy Spirit. There are 2 wisdoms and each has its own outcome James tells us. Chapter 3 began with the influence of the tongue and vv13-18 provide the summation on cultivating thought – the key to right thinking is right thought.
Did you catch the metaphors for the tongue in Ch. 3 yesterday? Here’s another one…the tongue is contained in a cage of teeth and lips and James provides that it isn’t our intelligence that keeps the cage locked…it is wisdom – wisdom from above. Wisdom that is characterized by humility, grace and peace…hmmmmm, I don’t know about you, but I realize the cage is sometimes unlocked – makes me pause…James is a practical book, putting it into practice is hard.
So, I keep by my desk something given to me by Will Miner – I was visiting him in the hospital in his last days and he gave me a “homework assignment”. I was still in seminary and this wonderful man who was dying gave me the following – maybe you will find it a source of daily encouragement as well as together we cultivate our lives in wisdom from above: