I think I am guilty of reducing it down to knowing the right thing to do or say in any given situation. Which is certainly true of wisdom. We say a wise person is a wise person because of those very characteristics.
It’s not that I think that isn’t a correct view but it’s more that wisdom itself is something altogether and my definition is actually the working out of wisdom in a person.
We are exhorted over and over in Scriptures to seek wisdom, to get wisdom, to buy wisdom, to hunt for her as treasure that is far greater than silver or gold, she is described as a precious jewel, and we are to call her our sister.
Seems a bit fuller than just knowing the right thing to say, doesn’t it?
At the end of chapter three James gives us a more robust definition of wisdom.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. ~James 3:17
Obviously, if I am to be wise then I must be honest about my own sin. How can there be purity if I am harboring unconfessed sin?
What exactly is meant by ‘peaceable’? Peaceable is defined as not contentious or quarrelsome, quietly behaved and free from strife or disorder. Sometimes my heart and mind are anything but free from disorder and quietly behaved.
I know I am not always gentle and open to reason. Mercy can be in short supply when I am offended and the fruit of my life is sometimes bitter. My bent is toward myself so impartial and sincere are out the window if I am not careful.
Wisdom would seem impossible except that we do know where wisdom comes from and how to get it.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. ~ James 1:5
We aren’t called to be wise for our good alone, although that is a definite benefit. We are called to be wise so that we can help comfort and encourage others to deal with their sin. We are called to be wise so that we can bring peace and gentleness to a world that is lacking peace and gentleness. We need wisdom to know how to reason with one another through the hard uncomfortable things and show mercy when we don’t get it right. We need wisdom so that good fruit can flourish not just in our lives but so it can be nurtured in others. We need wisdom so that we can be governed by something other than our own desire and will so that we seek the genuine good of those around us.
We know where to find it. We know He will be faithful in the giving of it. May we be brave enough to ask for it.