Two Kinds of Wisdom
Week beginning: 18th November, 2018 | By Brent Haywood | Edinburgh
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness."James 3:13-18 (NIV)
Although it is not part of scripture, the heading that the NIV gives to this portion of James is a useful one. There are two kinds of wisdom.
Clients come to lawyers for 'wise counsel', but have you ever mused on what that phrase means? In this passage James suggests that it is vital to recognise where professed 'wisdom' and 'understanding' come from. James teaches that a 'wisdom' derived from 'envy and selfish ambition' manifests in 'disorder and every evil practice'. Now, pause for a moment to reflect on how much 'envy and selfish ambition' exists in that part of the law that you inhabit!
In contrast, wisdom from heaven is 'pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere'. Could anything be more starkly different? Interestingly, those who display such hallmarks seem to be called 'peacemakers'. When your clients and colleagues look to you, is that what they see, a 'peacemaker'? Now, I am sure that the word 'peacemaker' is not a regular synonym for 'lawyer', but if you are to raise a 'harvest of righteousness' then that is the kind of wisdom that is to be to be demonstrated.
Above I used the word 'mused' deliberately. Before you delete this email and move on with the day, stop and muse on the words of the passage again. If there are two kinds of wisdom, which do you employ?
Lord, as I examine my heart before you, test me so that I can consider truthfully which kind of wisdom I draw on. I've never seen myself as a peacemaker; please help me to see what that means for me right now in the place I am. Thank you for your mercies to me, be patient with me and may your grace let me resolve to be a peacemaker, sowing in peace, that a harvest of righteousness might be reaped. Amen.