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Which Wisdom?

Today's Devotional

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. James 3:13

Just before Easter 2018, a terrorist entered a market, killing two people and taking a third woman hostage. When efforts to free the woman failed, a policeman made the terrorist an offer: release the woman and take him instead.

The offer was shocking because it went against popular wisdom. You can always tell a culture’s “wisdom” by the sayings it celebrates, like the celebrity quotes that get posted on social media. “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams,” one popular quote reads. “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line,” says another. “Do what you have to do, for you,” states a third. Had the police officer followed such advice, he’d have put himself first and run.

The apostle James says there are two kinds of wisdom in the world: one “earthly,” another “heavenly.” The first is marked by selfish ambition and disorder (James 3:14–16); the second, by humility, submission, and peacemaking (vv. 13, 17–18). Earthly wisdom puts self first. Heavenly wisdom favors others, leading to a life of humble deeds (v. 13).

The terrorist accepted the police officer’s offer. The hostage was released, the policeman was shot, and that Easter the world witnessed an innocent man dying for someone else.

Heavenly wisdom leads to humble deeds because it places God above self (Proverbs 9:10). Which wisdom are you following today?

What “wisdom” does the world offer? How can you best assess the wisdom you’re offered?

All-wise God, please give me the kind of wisdom that leads to humble deeds done in love.


According to James 3:13, “humility”—in contrast to “envy and selfish ambition” (v. 14)—is at the core of wise living. Comparing the description of earthly wisdom in verses 14–16 to heavenly wisdom in verse 17 is like moving from earth’s dark shadows into heaven’s brilliant light. In verse 17, seven characteristics of heavenly wisdom are noted: it’s pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, impartial, and sincere. These things could well represent what was lacking among James’ readers. Like smaller stones that surround the major relational stone of humility, James lists attributes that describe God’s wisdom and contribute to relational harmony and wholeness. These qualities are comparable to those produced by God’s Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22–23.

By |2023-09-11T02:33:03-04:00September 11th, 2023|
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