Define Wisdom On These 8 Criteria

Definition Of Wisdom Based On These 8 Criteria

Whether you’re a Christian or not we all want more wisdom. However, when you have access to all information as we do it’s pretty difficult to tell what is wisdom, what is knowledge and what is just pure foolishness. Luckily for Christians, the Bible gives us not just a book full of wisdom but also some criteria to judge it.

…Wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincereJames 3:17

If anyone could claim to know wisdom it’s James. He knew wisdom, maybe even more so than Solomon. As Jesus’ brother James KNEW wisdom, personally. So let’s look at what Wisdom is based on this scripture.

1. Wisdom Is Pure

Wisdom from above is first of all pure

Purity can sound a lot like “prudishness” but it’s actually pretty simple to define (and hard to live out).  The word pure comes from the Greek word Hagne, which simply means, ““pure, chaste, holy, sacred, purifying.”  Ask, does this “wisdom” contain any other motives, is it tainted?   Any thought that is not pure in nature is not from God. I have known people that felt that God told them to leave their wife. No, He did not. God would never ask you to do anything that does not line up with His word.  Whether you receive wisdom from reading, advice from another person or reflection, if it doesn’t line up with God’s word, it’s not wisdom.

2. Wisdom Is Peace Loving

“…It is also peace loving…”

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listenEphesians 4:29 NIV

Ever notice what’s typically posted on social media? It’s divisive. Sometimes I get a thought about a particular cause or political candidate, but if it doesn’t cause unity or glorify God I would only bring strife if I posted it. Every wise thought is one associated with peace and encouragement.   Wisdom builds you up.

3. Wisdom Is Gentle At All Times

Normally the Message version of the Bible condenses thought, but here it expounds.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.James 3:17-18 The Message (MSG)

In keeping with Ephesians 4:29, you should be wrestling to expel any thought that is not encouraging or bringing peace. God does not tell us to physically war with our neighbor or argue with them.

I understand that for some of us, we want to debate someone into heaven, but it’ll never happen. It’s the love of Jesus that compelled you and me to Him, not His anger. His anger was for the religious debaters of that time, the Pharisees.

Jesus was 100% Truth and Love. You must stand on the Word and Love others. The thoughts that appear wise to confront will only be truly wise if your approach is gentle.

4. Wisdom Is Willing To Yield To Others

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth .’

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.

Matthew 5:38-40 NIV

For leaders, I think this is a tough one to recognize. How do you yield to others without getting walked all over?  It’s part of your walk to obtain wisdom. It’s like Truth and Love.

Ultimately, God is your provider, not a man. I see this playing out in two different ways. When someone wrongs you and you wish to correct the situation. You have the right to correct the situation, however, if you’re looking through the lens of wisdom you have to ask yourself, is this a place I can yield. Sometimes God gives you an opportunity to yield and it opens a door to someone’s heart. Other times you may yield and get no immediate feedback. God’s got your back. I can guarantee you that if you yield, in order to honor God, you will be taken care of.

The second place I see this popping up is when you receive an opportunity or a blessing. Sometimes you may think this is your blessing, however, something on the inside of you is telling you that this opportunity is for someone else. It’s like what is said of Abraham, “blessed to be a blessing.” Again, looking through the lens of wisdom, immediate profit might seem wise. However, yielding here, and connecting this blessing to the person God intended will often lead to greater responsibility to you. Hold opportunities with an open hand and be willing to yield because sometimes blessing others might prove more beneficial to God’s kingdom than even your own.

I have a recent example of this. I had a friend from church bring a great real estate investment opportunity to me. I thought for sure this was for me.  I felt like God was telling me to yield to another but the person I had to yield to was not my favorite person. I wouldn’t dare call another brother in Christ a “nemesis” but “frenemy” might be a close approximation. It turned out to be a match, made in Heaven and worked out better than anything I could have done.

5.  Wisdom Is Full of Mercy

The entire New Testament speaks of God’s mercy. I have been forgiven MUCH, so I must be ready with mercy.  Are you noticing a theme here? Wisdom usually means withholding our natural instincts to fight, argue, protect what’s ours or get revenge. If you are a leader, I don’t think this means you keep those that follow you on your team if they are not performing. I do think this means you lovingly pull them aside and if you need to part ways that you do it in a very loving way.

6.  Wisdom Bears Fruit

Wisdom acts like a filter with which to view decisions through. If you are about to endeavor something, consider the fruit it might produce.  In business settings, we can tend to think about efficiencies or profits. Here think about the eternal fruit. However, keep in mind that if what you do reaches just one person, it was worth it.

While we are here, let’s talk about good deeds.  The scripture says “bears fruit from good deeds.”  When you have a thought about doing something good, it’s probably a wise thought.  I think often we get “do-gooder” thoughts and sometimes dismiss it as trivial or too much work.  In reality, this could be God giving you an opportunity to change a life as part of a bigger plan.   Don’t miss out on this wisdom.

7.  Wisdom Shows No Favoritism

It’s easy to have favorites. Friends, and coworkers. Wisdom asks you, “are you making this decision based on your favorites?” What about race, ethnicity or cultures? Do the choices you make show your preference? Wisdom can come from all walks of life from every corner. In Heaven, there will be no prejudice against race or clique’s in which we belong. We are all His Children and we each have the same value.

Advice or information that steers you away from unity is not wisdom. When you read social media, 90% of that is not wisdom. Wisdom will unify not divide the Saints.

8.  Wisdom Is Sincere

This world is dying for authenticity and transparency. Authenticity is the “salt” for this generation. The pane glass of wisdom will tell you to divest yourself of motives other than His Kingdom. God wouldn’t ask you to be fake or insincere. If you have any thoughts that require you to be anything but true to your identity, then it’s likely not wisdom.

James knew wisdom intimately because he knew WISDOM intimately.   How do you receive and grow in Wisdom?  That’s a lesson for another day, but how can you tell if this information is defined as wisdom?

Questions To Define Wisdom

  • Ask yourself is this information based on purity?
  • Is it peace loving and gentle?
  • Does it require you to yield when maybe you don’t want to?
  • Is this information merciful?
  • Will this information bear fruit if acted on?
  • Does it favor your favorite or will it require you to be unbiased?
  • Is it sincere and authentic?

What do you think?  Are there other criteria?  Did I miss anything?  Let’s discuss wisdom below!

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