I've always thought one of my gifts was wisdom. Sounds a little stuck up, I guess, but stay with me. In reality, I've always been an "old soul", which can come across as wise I suppose. Think about it; as a highschool kid, when peers are discussing clothes and boys, and I'm thinking about what I want to do with my whole life. Seems kinda wise, right? Or in college, the basketball guys are thinking as far ahead as their next meal, and I'm writing out their plans of study so they can graduate on time. Wisdom? Ok. But as I've gotten a little more life under my belt (28 whole years of experience...wah wah wahhh), I'm seeing that that stuff I THOUGHT was wisdom, was really just fluff. Big-picture planning. Maybe the gift of administration. Not true wisdom.
Over the past several months, the Lord has been really working on me. It's tough to chip away at the "flesh suit" (as the darling Janet Osborne says) that we're stuck wearing here on earth. But what a joy, knowing that Christ loves me enough to change me to be more like Him. Last semester, I went through "The Mind of Christ" by T.W. Hunt. Woooweee, what a Bible study. If you ever get the chance to go through it, please do. It it a huge commitment, but a huge reward to learn to have the mind of Christ. Side notes. Sorry. Anyway, so this semester I'm going through the book of James with Beth Moore's new study. These 2 studies are a 1-2 punch combo about true wisdom.
First, in ch. 1 of James we have "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Excellent. God will make us wise. But what kind of wise? What does this wisdom look like? Is it "wisdom beyond your years"? That's what I thought I had all this time. What does that even mean, anyway? Maybe "understanding beyond your years" is a better idea there. We know that Solomon asked God for wisdom (1 Kings ch. 3) and it was granted to him. But look at WHY he wanted wisdom. He understood that he was responsible to God for these people, and also understood that he was completely incapable of handling things correctly, apart from God. God granted his desire because it was asked for in humility and in God's will. Ok, so now that we know how to get wisdom, we need to know what it looks like.
Back to James, ch. 3 starting in v. 13. "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peaceloving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch! Whoa baby. If I ever thought I had an ounce of wisdom, that just went out the window. It's like James is speaking right to me. "Oh really, you think you're wise? Prove it! Ever have envy? Selfish ambition? (Um, yeah.) Those are the furthest things from being wise."
Earthly. Unspiritual. Of the devil?!? Well, ok I know selfishness is a sin, and sin is of the devil, but doesn't that seem kind of harsh? There goes any misnomer about "living in good-land" or "riding the fence". Can't be a little bit wise and a little bit selfish. (Refer back to earlier in ch. 3, v 9ish-12) Ouch again. These things don't promote wisdom of any sort, not even earthly "wisdom". Disorder and evil practices. Help us Lord!
And of course He does! Praise Him for that!! Just when we get (hopefully) grieved over our sinfulness, here comes the good news. Remember Ch. 1? Who lacks wisdom? Ask for it! Because wisdom, like every other good thing is a gift from God. And now we now what it looks like. Pure. Peaceloving. Gentle/considerate. Entreatable/submissive. (Side note: I like the KJV "easy to be intreated", because it's really saying that people can ask things of you, and you're glad to do them) Full of mercy and good fruit. Impartial and sincere. Wow, I have a long way to go before I would consider myself wise.
Pondering all this wisdom stuff in my mind lately, I pulled out my "Mind of Christ" book, knowing we had studied James 3:17. The first part of the lesson really spoke to me last semester, and hit me fresh again when I looked back. Hunt talks about cleansing your mind with God's word, and how a big thing he had to combat was humanism. And this was back in the early 70's! How much more so is humanism ingrained in our brains these days, even in church circles. His definition of humanism is "a capacity for self-realization through reason. It glorifies what man can do apart from God." He says, "My humanistically trained mind wanted to work hard to achieve the virtues." (found in James 3:17 and Gal. 5:22-23). Now if that doesn't speak about me, I don't know what does. I see that I lack wisdom. I ask God for it. I see what it should look like. Then I try realllllly hard to start looking like that picture! How foolish of me. Dang it, as far away from wisdom as I could be again!
I think I need to take it a couple steps back and try a different route: I see that I lack wisdom. I ask God for it. I see what it should look like. I cleanse and fill my mind with God's Word, and I ALLOW him daily access to myself, to chip away the "flesh suit" and fill me with His wisdom. Phew. What a humbling thing to remember how far I have to go to look like Christ. But praise, praise, praise the Lord that he's willing to take me there, if only I will let him! So friends, seek wisdom with me. True wisdom from above. Not just good advice or smart planning. And if I start spooning out some of that old "wisdom", hug me tightly and whisper "pure. peaceloving. gentle. entreatable. merciful. fruitful. impartial. sincere." in my ear as a sweet little reminder of what we're really after.