The Wisdom From Above

Text: James 3:13-18

There are two types of wisdom – worldly wisdom and heavenly wisdom. The previous lesson discussed using heavenly wisdom as we plan for the future. This lesson will take a step back and consider the contrast between the two types of wisdom.

How to Determine If We Have Wisdom (James 3:13)

  • Earlier in the book, James said we are to pray for wisdom (James 1:5) – we can have confidence that we will receive wisdom (James 1:6)
  • However, praying for wisdom is not something that brings results overnight – it is a process
  • Wisdom involves the application of knowledge – we must grow in knowledge of God’s word (2 Peter 3:18; 2 Timothy 2:15); after we know what the word says, we must put it into practice (James 1:22); through our practice of/in the word, we train our senses (Hebrews 5:14); all of this leads to wisdom (knowing God’s will and how to apply it)
  • Who among you is wise and understanding?” … many might claim this, but how can we determine if we actually are wise? – not enough just to say we have prayed for wisdom
  • Wisdom is shown in “good behavior” – walk as wise men (Ephesians 5:15); how? (Ephesians 5:1, 8-10)
  • Wisdom is shown in “gentleness” – meekness (KJV); humble obedience to God; meekness is the opposite of wickedness (Psalm 147:6)

Worldly Wisdom is Opposed to Wisdom from Above (James 3:14-16)

  • The wisdom from above is truth, but some will “lie against the truth” (James 3:14) – why? … bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, arrogance
  • Truth is opposed to all of these – bitter jealousy means we cannot rejoice with others (Romans 12:15); selfish ambition means we are seeking only our own interests (Philippians 2:3-4); arrogance means we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think (Romans 12:3)
  • The source of worldly wisdom is ultimately the devil (James 3:15) – he is the father of lies (John 8:44); opposed to everything that is of the truth
  • Result of following worldly wisdom (James 3:16) – “disorder” which is in contrast with God who is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 15:33); “every evil thing” which is in contrast with God being the giver of every good thing (James 1:17)

Characteristics of the Wisdom from Above (James 3:17-18)

  • Pure – this is necessarily first; we cannot tamper with the word of God and still follow wisdom; when we change God’s message, we are no longer following His truth (Galatians 1:6-9)
  • Peaceable – we should be “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9); as much as possible (Romans 12:18)
  • Gentle – word means to be fair and to seek unity (1 Timothy 3:3; Ephesians 4:3)
  • Reasonable – “easy to be intreated” (KJV); means to be eager to obey (Titus 2:14)
  • Full of mercy – show mercy to others as God has shown mercy to us (Matthew 5:7; 6:14-15)
  • Full of good fruits – “bearing fruit in every good work” (Colossians 1:10); done as we abide in Christ (John 15:4)
  • Unwavering – without compromise; willing to boldly take a stand (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
  • Without hypocrisy – we “practice what we preach” (Matthew 23:2-3; Romans 2:21)
  • Righteousness – practice what is right (1 John 3:7); the standard of righteousness is God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16)


  • We can choose to follow after two types of wisdom – wisdom of the world or wisdom from above
  • Worldly wisdom – leads to every evil thing
  • Heavenly wisdom – leads to every good thing
  • The choice is obvious – follow after heavenly wisdom; do so by engaging in righteous behavior

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