Who among the SharperIron readership is wise and understanding? By his good conduct, let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
The question I put to you now is the question that James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, put to his readership (“the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad”) some several centuries ago (James 3:13, paraphrased). Wisdom still cries in the streets, offering to us simpletons an opportunity to learn her ways.
Who among the SharperIron readership is wise and understanding? Before you answer, beware! James already warned his readership in 3:1, “Be not many masters [teachers].” Why? “We shall receive the greater condemnation” (KJV). To set oneself up as a teacher is to make a claim of authority, to make a claim of wisdom, and to raise the bar for oneself. The role of teacher generally involves a lot of speaking, and speaking is perilous territory. “When words are many, transgression is not lacking” (Prov. 10:19, ESV). It is so confoundedly easy to say something silly, erroneous, spiteful, equivocal, tactless, uncharitable, or vulgar. Go ahead: tame your tongue. Tame Leviathan for practice.
Consequently, after such stern warnings to would-be teachers and warnings about the tongue in general, when James asks, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?” (KJV), no one should be terribly eager to pop up his hand. And for those who dare, James further challenges, “Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”
Let him show. How very typically James-ian. Do you have faith? Then show it with works! Do you have wisdom? Then show it in your daily walk! Commentator Derek Kidner introduces his commentary on Proverbs, “There are details of character small enough to escape the mesh of the law and the broadsides of the prophets, and yet decisive in personal dealings. Proverbs moves in this realm.” The Greek word for the KJV’s “conversation” (ESV, “conduct”) connotes moving about. Kidner’s observation is apt: we encounter many issues in our daily moving about that require a wise application of biblical principle, but they are not covered by any chapter and verse. Wisdom is for the moment-by-moment of the Christian’s walk. Moreover, it’s something demonstrable.
Read more about Resolved for 2007: Get the Wisdom from Above, Part 1