The importance of wisdom cannot be stated enough. It’s actually one of my favorite qualities in life. Proverbs says “Wisdom cries out in the marketplace.” But there are two forms of wisdom that exist that aren’t discovered as easily by human perception. The difference between the two are found in the intent and character they possess, and if God didn’t reveal Himself, we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
It is because of this that the Apostle James says in James 3:13-17 that there is wisdom from above, and wisdom that is demonic, earthly, and sensual. The word that really stands out to me is demonic, because we have an idea of what demonic manifestation looks like, and I’ve learned that it’s rarely in your face. It shows up in so many places, and the purpose of this is to hide the true intent of demonic activity, which is to turn humanity from God in rebellion. Satan and his demons are intent on swaying us from the truth and they will promote a wisdom that we’d easily accept.
Whenever wisdom is given with the intent, motivation, and attitude of envy or selfishness, the source of that wisdom is earthly, sensual, and demonic. What’s even crazier is that this description of wisdom is mentioned after James goes into detail about how our tongue isn’t able to be tamed, as well as the higher form of judgement that teachers of the word will receive. This tells us that it is very easy to spread this evil source of wisdom through our mouths and our teachings.
An example of this is when some of the wisdom concerned with material success deals with us getting as much as we can for ourselves instead of being selfless, and it is present in much of our culture through entertainment. Some of the wisdom given regarding love, friendship, romance, and other relationships comes from a place of getting what you want out of it, or even from bitterness. One more example would be the ideology about all religions being the same, and in order to truly love, you can’t say that a truth claim is wrong and leads to death.
When wisdom from above is shown, however, it comes from a pure place. As much as you can grow in wisdom from anybody, the ultimate beginning of wisdom only comes from giving reverence to God. So when the wisdom you hear leads to less partiality, hypocrisy, selflessness, peace, and other fruit, that is the kind of wisdom you must cherish and protect.
Remember though, this kind of wisdom doesn’t always look like wisdom to much of the world, because it either requires too much from us, or it doesn’t make much sense outside of the revelation the Spirit gives. No human being is ever above and beyond the influence of the flesh or ideas that are antagonistic to the will of God, so as believers may we diligently walk in the wisdom from above.