Yogi Berra, former Major League Baseball player and manager, demonstrated the linguistic gymnastics that earned him eight entries in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, when he addressed graduates at Montclair State University with these gems: “First, never give up, because it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” “Remember that whatever you do in life, 90 percent of it is half mental.” How’s that for some confusing common wisdom?
James, the brother of Jesus was one of the most prominent leaders in the early church. Under the power of the Holy Spirit, he demonstrated his writing skills and uncommon wisdom when he penned 5 chapters in the greatest book in the world—the Bible. In chapter 3, James defined two types of wisdom—spiritual and godly; unspiritual and ungodly. According to verses 14-16, being bitterly jealous and selfish is the epitome of being unwise. James’ readers would have understood what his words meant: Having ill will toward others, creating cliques, measuring yourself by your own standards, and denying what God says about you are all characteristics of an ungodly and a devil-motivated wisdom.
In verses 17-18, James presents some characteristics of godly wisdom: walking in integrity with God and others (purity); refusing to awaken and incite anger in other people (peace loving, planting seeds of peace); valuing and accepting other people’s feelings, opinions, and suggestions (gentle, yielding to others); forgiving others’ mistakes and sins (merciful); and being transparent about my weaknesses (sincerity).
Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:30). When we stay connected to Him (John 15:5), His values and very life will be formed in us and His wisdom— from above—will flow through us.
God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom, He has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:20-21).
Which type of wisdom do you exhibit the most— godly or ungodly? What do you need to do to live out the wisdom of God?