Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Comment: This is such a punch filled passage that it pays to think very seriously about our own lives. That of course is exactly what James wants us to do! He links a series of things together.
- Wisdom and understanding. Understanding (knowledge) is not equal to wisdom. Be wise, he says.
- Good conduct and meekness of wisdom. James says a lot about works and here he ties work with meekness. That makes good sense or else your good works become self-righteous works.
- Jealousy and selfish ambition leading to boasting and lying.
That sort of behaviour is demonic leading to disorder and vile practices. It is not the wisdom which is from above. The list above is followed by a list of the virtues of true wisdom.
- It is pure, peaceable, gentle, rational, merciful, impartial, sincere and produces a rich harvest of peaceful righteousness.
Prayer: Oh that the world were filled with the wisdom from above, O God!