James 3:13-18 – Wisdom From Above

by | Updated April 7th, 2020

James contrasts the wisdom that’s from above with that which is earthly, sensual, and devilish. He has some harsh words for those who are dominated by the mere wisdom of this world. He encourages those who depend on the wisdom that originates from above.

The wisdom of this world brings strife, confusion, and every evil work. The wisdom that comes from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

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Sadly, even “so called” believers today are leaning to much on the wisdom of this world rather than the things of God, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. Wise is the one who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly but rather depends on Christ, His Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. Then and only then will we display true godly wisdom that is from above.

Psalms 1:1-3 – “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Colossians 2:8 – “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Colossians 3:16 – “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Romans 15:14 – “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

Those Endued With Knowledge

James 3:13 – “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”

Great question! Are you wise and endued with knowledge? Then it should show forth in your conversation, life, and practice. Far too often the “so called” wise and those who seem to know so much do not display it in their daily lives and how they act and react with people. Solomon was such a man. He was know as the wisest man to ever live and he indeed was. He displayed godly wisdom in his early years but sadly, as he grew older and grew in knowledge this was sorely lacking.

This may refer to four things in the context:

  1. If any lack wisdom (James 1:5). Surely we all lack wisdom at times. Most everyone, as they grow more and more in knowledge, seem to appropriate less and less wisdom. Pride wells up within them, they begin to think they know more than others, and as a result they fall short in wisdom. Far too often, those who are endued with knowledge the most fail to apply wisdom. Let it be a lesson to us that the more knowledge we obtain the more we should cry out to God for wisdom on how to apply such knowledge wisely.
  2. Teachers (James 3:1). Teachers hopefully are studying to equip our-self to be the best teacher we can possibly be. Particularly teachers of God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15). We too can allow this to go to our head and be puffed up with pride – “Knowledge puffeth up” ( 1 Corinthians 8:1). In seeking to grow more and more in knowledge its incumbent on us to humbly lay our-self at the feet of Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to help us to apply all we know wisely.
  3. The lowly (James 1:9-11). It’s often that the lowliest among us often show more wisdom. It’s likely because we don’t think so highly of our-self and depend more on the wisdom that’s from above. It is frequently the case that the less educated are extremely wise and pragmatic. Those young in the Lord and not as well trained in the things of God He seems to impart the greater wisdom. No matter how much knowledge we have, we must continually seek wisdom from above and not lean on our own wisdom. We must constantly rely on His wisdom.

    Colossians 2:3 – “In Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

    1 Corinthians 1:26-30 – “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

  4. Conflict (James 3:3-4:1). The entire context deals with the unbridled tongue, strife, confusion, selfish ambition, wars and fighting. When do we need wisdom more than in the midst of conflict? When there are those who are speaking evil against us, criticizing, complaining, and sowing discord. It’s in these times that we need wisdom from above more than ever. It’s in times of trial, temptation, and testing that we are challenged to ask God for wisdom (James 1:2-5).

    “Meekness of wisdom.” Instead of letting tempers flare, and striking back we must respond with meekness. Moses was constantly dealing with conflict with the children of Israel. He indeed at times got angry but he mostly displayed meekness of wisdom. “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). When conflict is raging wisdom dictates we respond with all meekness and gentleness in dealing with people and situations. The context deals with things and situation within the church.

    2 Timothy 2:24-25 – “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.”

    Proverbs 15:1 – “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”

    The response on the behalf of a man, woman, and leader can either cause tempers to flare and the situation to blow up or they can dissipate the situation. Our response is paramount. Most of us have, at times, reacted to situations improperly. Hopefully we learn and grow and deal with things better. Sadly, we could have saved a lot of trouble for ourself and the cause of Christ had we applied meekness of wisdom originally. This also applies to any and all relationships of life.

Lie Not Against the Truth

James 3:14 – “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.”

Bitter envying and strife is utterly opposed to the truth. We cannot be walking in the truth while possessing envy and strife in our heart. According to James 3:3-12, when in the heart, this deadly poison spews out of the mouth and off tongue and is deadly. It defiles the entire body and sets on fire the course of nature (James 3:5-6). This has destroyed more churches than one can count. If not destroyed, it has, at the very least, rendered it ineffective and powerless. This is a specific application to the church but can also apply to families, relationships, marriages, businesses, and individuals alike. It’s deadly and is a lie against the truth!

This bitter envying resulting in strife runs the gamut. Jealousy over someone getting a position we think should have been offered to us, people possessing things, being blessed, or getting things we wish we had, people working in the church, business, etc. and getting too much attention, closer to someone than we are, and on and on it goes. This comes from the heart and, if not dealt with, goes out of the mouth. The unbridled tongue goes on the warpath and destruction and division is sure to follow. This must be taken to the cross (Romans 6:11-13).

Proverbs 64:3 – “They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.”

Proverbs 12:18 – “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Psalms 37:1 – “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

Proverbs 27:4 – “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?”

Hebrews 12:15 – “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”

Romans 12:15 – “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

Let’s make a habit of rejoicing with people when they’re blessed, promoted, praised, etc. If we would make this a practice in our life it would begin to change our heart and life. Bitter envying not only destroys those around us but it destroys us as well. It’s a bitterness that takes root in the heart and will slowly eat away at our very soul. If we’ll begin to rejoice with those who rejoice we’ll find bitterness replaced with joy. Who knows, if we rejoice enough with others, we may find blessing coming our way as well.

The Source of Earthly Wisdom

James 3:15-16 – “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

Bitter envying and strife or selfish ambition does not come from God. Often people think they have to fight their way to the top as it were. They believe that’s the only way to get ahead. Look out for number one. If you don’t fight for yourself who will. They feel they must manipulate the system and people to get where they want to go and what they want. Its results are always confusion and every evil work. “This wisdom descendeth not from above.”

It’s source is three-fold:

  1. Earthly. People may try and give off a spiritual aura but it’s not spiritual at all. It’s a wisdom that comes from this world system and is not of God.
  2. Sensual. It’s natural and not supernatural. It’s carnal and attempting to satisfy the flesh and is soulish.
  3. Devilish. Wherever bitter envying and strife is its ultimate source is always demonic. It’s inspired by the devil himself. It comes straight from the pit of hell.

Heavenly Wisdom

James 3:17-18 – “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

James now shows the contrast from worldly wisdom to heavenly wisdom. The two are in direct opposition to one another. The are diametrically opposed. It’s the fruit of righteousness and is always sown in peace of them that make peace.

Eight-fold aspect of heavenly wisdom:

  1. Pure. This wisdom is unmixed and unadulterated. It’s absolutely pure in motive and intention. Heavenly wisdom has nothing but good intentions toward others. It seeks nothing but good for those they have dealings with.

    Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

    Romans 13:7-10 – “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

    1 John 3:16 – “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

  2. Peaceable. The last verse of this chapter sums it up, “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:18). Those who operate and govern their lives with the wisdom that is from above are always peace makers. They always seek peace at all cost, except where scripture and doctrine is opposed.

    Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

    Romans 14:19 – “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”

    Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

    Hebrews 12:14 – “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

  3. Gentle. This brings us back to our first verse of our study (James 3:13). Meekness is the key to dealing with people in any and all situations. Instead of letting tempers flare, and striking back we must respond with meekness. When conflict is raging wisdom dictates we respond with all meekness and gentleness in dealing with people and situations.
  4. Easy to be entreated. Reasonable! Things never turn out well when dealing with unreasonable people. You just can’t reason with them. They won’t listen to reason. In contrast, the wisdom that’s from above is always reasonable. It always listens to reason. They will always listen to the other side of the story or argument with an open mind. Most of all those with heavenly wisdom will seek to bring reason and peace into a situation with the God’s Word.

    Exodus 18:16 – “When they have a difficulty they come to me and I judge between one and another. I make known the statutes of God and His laws.”

    Romans 15:14 – “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

    Romans 12:18 – “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”

  5. Full of mercy. God is a God of mercy, therefore, any wisdom from above will always be filled with mercy not judgment. I’d rather stand before God having shown too much mercy than having shown none or too little mercy. God’s wisdom always shows mercy.

    Micah 6:8 – “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

    Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”

    Luke 6:36 – “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”

    2 Samuel 22:26 – “With the merciful Thou wilt shew Thyself merciful.”

  6. Good fruits. This no doubt refers to the fruit of the Spirit which will produce the best fruit in any situation. It resolves conflict with best possible results and outcome. It’s always fruitful and is somehow able to take the worse situation and make it turn to good account.

    Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

    James 3:18 – “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

  7. Without partiality. Heavenly wisdom shows no partiality or respect of persons. God never looks on the person of man and shows partiality and we shouldn’t either. We must never show favoritism. The wisdom that’s from above seeks to bring peace without partiality or favoritism.

    Romans 2:11 – “For there is no respect of persons with God.”

    James 2:1 – “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”

  8. Without hypocrisy. Wisdom from above does not play games nor put on an act to please certain parties. It deals with each and every person and situation without partiality, hating only evil and cleaving to that which is good. Those displaying God’s wisdom seek to “make known the statutes of God and His laws” (Exodus 18:16). It shows love, judgment, and discernment by the love of God and His Word.

    Romans 15:14 – “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

    Romans 12:11 – “Let love be without dissimulation (hypocrisy). Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”


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