In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, we are encouraged to seek after wisdom. Likewise, in the New Testament we are exhorted to walk in wisdom.
However, in the epistle of James we learn that there is more than just one kind of wisdom; heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom. James explores the differences between these two types of wisdom by making several contrasts.
He begins with earthly wisdom, which is not from above. This is wisdom that follows the world's standards and is, therefore, foolishness to God.
This earthly wisdom is also sensual, meaning that it appeals to the senses, the emotions, and the passions. It says that whatever feels right is good.
James also notes this kind of wisdom is demonic. It is the kind of wisdom possessed by the devil and his angels, a wisdom that often finds its origin in the influences of Satan!
1. Full of bitter envy
Earthly wisdom is full of bitterness and envy; it inhabits a self-seeking heart. It is the source of confusion.
This wisdom extols as virtues such qualities as power, position, privilege and prestige. It was this kind of wisdom that prompted Satan and his angels to rebel against God. It even prompted the disciples to argue over who would be the greatest in the kingdom.
But what about heavenly wisdom?
James says heavenly wisdom is from above; it comes to us from God through prayer and his word.
It is true to God's and does not compromise truth for the sake of peace. Still, James says heavenly wisdom is peaceable; it holds to the truth while making every effort to be at peace with everyone.
Heavenly wisdom is kind in its dealings with others; not harsh, even when right and dealing with those who differ. It is willing to yield in matters of opinion and in matters of liberty, but is unyielding when it comes to matters of truth.
Lastly, heavenly wisdom is full of mercy and bears good fruit. Because of one's understanding of our own need for mercy, those with heavenly wisdom are quick to forgive. In addition, it takes us past the point of hearing the Word into a place of being a doer of the Word.
It would be good for all of us who call ourselves believers to ask ourselves a simple question; do our lives demonstrate earthly wisdom or heavenly wisdom? Only our own hearts know the answer to that question.