I want to be a wise woman. I have always wanted to be wise. Maybe the desire to be full of wisdom comes from my childhood since I was known as Chatty Kathy after a doll that was on the market when I was a child and it could talk when a string was pulled. I hated to be called Chatty Kathy because to me it meant that I didn’t know when to shut my mouth. Granted the truth is the truth and I have to be honest with you all…I did have a problem telling too much information to too many people inside and outside the family. I have worked hard to overcome and change my reputation within my family. Sometimes I think my filter button wasn’t working properly. Let me give you an example.
I loved going to the public library in my small Nebraska town when I was a child. Summer reading was great fun to me. I would read books like The Hardy Boy’s series and loved solving the mysteries they solved. I loved reading Little Women, Heidi, and books that told how life was during previous generations. I loved to talk to the librarian too. She was a very nice older lady but for the life of me I can’t remember her name…maybe I never knew her name. She always knew me, though, and that was part of the problem.
It was the summer of 1964 and my sister was in nursing school. Part of her training was to be completed in a psychiatric hospital in another city far from my Nebraska town. We had just received her first letter and oh boy was I excited with all the things she told us in her letter. I told the librarian that my sister had written telling the most interesting things like how loud and angry some of the patients were and how one person had killed someone but was declared insane so they were in the hospital rather than in jail. I told her how some of the patients were there because they had tried to commit suicide. Of course I left no gory details out of my descriptions! She asked me where my sister was and I told her she was in Ingleside, I think that was the name of the hospital. But what I didn’t tell her was that she was a student nurse and not a patient!
When I told my Mother about my lovely conversation with the librarian she was mortified and made me march down to the library the very next day and tell the nice elderly lady librarian that my sister was not a patient there but was a student nurse. I was so embarrassed but I did what I needed to do. The nice lady laughed and told me that she was very glad I had come to clarify things for her as she was very concerned that my sister was a mental patient but knowing that she was a student nurse was much better! Whew! Now I could tell you a few more stories but they are all a little too embarrassing for me to share, you know I have tried really hard to fix my mouth filter! Now where could I learn wisdom? I asked my Sunday School teacher and she suggested that I read the book of Proverbs and the book of James. Hmmm! Guess what I learned? There are two different kinds of wisdom’s in this world.
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
The first thing I learned from this passage is that there is wisdom and it is paired with understanding. In order to be wise we must understand what the word of God is and how to apply it to our daily lives. I could read Proverbs but not always did I understand what I read. I had to dig a little deeper, and that summer I learned that when you don’t know a word in the Bible then look it up in a dictionary to get the full meaning of what the scripture is saying, or ask Mom! She knew everything in those days!
Mom really stressed my showing good behavior as the next sentence states. I needed that too! But truthfully we all have times when we need to be reminded what being good entails. It is doing good things for other people. We are to show compassion and help the needy and share what we have with those who may need help. We need to be sure that we are actually helping them and not enabling them but that comes with understanding a situation. As children we shoveled snow from sidewalks for the housebound. My son loves to do that as well. It is a good feeling to do some manual labor for someone who can’t give you anything but their thanks.
The next sentence is hard for us to follow through with. We are to do good for others not because we are jealous or because we want to keep up with the Jones. We are to make certain our motives are pure and not out of a bitterness that is hidden in us. That is a hard lesson to learn even now at my age. But it is an important lesson to remember because our motive is to be for the right reasons and not for our own praise and glory or for financial gain. If we find that our motive isn’t what it should be then we need to deal with it and confess it to the Lord and get rid of that bitterness and arrogance and jealously. Otherwise our good deed is not good deed at all!
Notice how James writes that this kind of wisdom is not from God! The world’s idea of being wise is to be successful and rich and to have it all but that is not God’s definition of wise. Some of the poorest people on earth have wisdom because they have pure and righteous motivation in doing good deeds for others. That is a good lesson to remember! I think it is better to pamper someone who can’t benefit me than to pamper someone who can benefit me if I want God’s wisdom. That is so different from the world’s wisdom of scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours or grease my palm and you grease mine!
This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. James 3:15-16, (NASB).
I see far too much of this kind of wisdom in the world around me. All I have to do is turn on the television and in so many of the programs there is disorder, murder, jealously, selfishness and on and on and on! I get tired of all of this earthly wisdom. I don’t know about you but I want to live my life in a simpler and more honest way than the way of worldly wisdom. I have seen the effect of such wisdom and I have dealt with the consequences of such thinking by others and it is not a joyful experience. So what is God’s wisdom?
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18, (NASB).
God’s wisdom is goodness, pureness, gentleness, every fruit of the spirit is chucked full of God’s wisdom. I just love that! Don’t you?