When I was in fifth grade, I thought I was making a wise decision when I cut off my shoulder length hair and got a “bowl” cut. Yes, you are picturing the correct cut…the one only BOYS had! I thought it would be wise choice that would keep me cool for the summer months while playing outside everyday. But over the summer, during my time volunteering at the local retirement center, as I left a retiree's room I heard, “When is that sweet little boy coming back.” That was when I realized that my hair cut decision was not the wisest. So I decided a change must come about and came up with another (what I thought) wise decision-to add some femininity, I would perm the bowl cut. I talked to my sister, who STRONGLY advised against it, but to her dismay, I, now a super wise SIXTH grader, did not heed her advise and marched right down to the salon and got a perm. This was a life changing experience. I went from a bowl cut and being mistaken for a boy, to having an afro and being mistaken for Bozo! Literally, my hair was short enough that my perm made my hair stick out on the sides just like Bozo's, only CURLY! Actually, it wasn't even curly, it was frizzy! So in my sixth grade picture I have frizzy Bozo hair! Looking back I realize that even though I thought I was an expert and knew what was best for me, I, in fact, was not wise in my decision.
I think we've all had moments like these when we look back at realize we didn't make a wise choice. Some of our decisions, like this one, bring laughter-others bring tears. The older I get the more I realize how important wisdom is. In God's love letter to us, He addresses wisdom over and over again. Let's take a minute and look at just two places where wisdom is discussed in the book of James.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. James 1:5
God is a gracious god. Here Paul tells us that God is gracious and will give us wisdom if we are lacking. He tells us that all we have to do is ask and that God will give it. Then Paul comforts those of us who immediately say, “But I don't deserve it,” by telling us that God “gives GENEROUSLY to ALL WITHOUT finding fault.” God doesn't just give us a little bit of wisdom, but He gives GENEROUSLY to all. He doesn't give us wisdom according to our past decisions. He's God; He loves us. And when we ask for wisdom, He will give it generously. Aren't you thankful for that? In a world where everything changes minute by minute, it's comforting to know my prayers asking for wisdom will be answered.
Later in the same book, Paul goes on to tell us more about wisdom. Listen to what he says about two different kinds of wisdom.
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. James 3:13-18
Paul explains that there is a true wisdom and a false wisdom. False wisdom, he says in verse 14, flows from bitter envy and selfish ambition. The decisions we make out of bitter envy and selfish ambition are not decisions that glorify God. They are decisions that we make to satisfy self-centered desires. On the other hand, Paul tells us that godly wisdom is tangible. Sometimes wisdom seems obscure and ambiguous, but Paul does a great job here of helping us measure the wisdom of our decisions. He describes true wisdom as PURE. He starts here. Godly wisdom is pure…no selfish motives or bitterness in these decisions. Then he goes on to say wisdom is “peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” Andy Stanley says the most important question you can ask yourself is, “What is the wise choice?” If we were to measure wisdom the way the Paul does we could ask, “What is the ‘pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere choice'?” Isn't that a great question? Paul's description of true wisdom takes wisdom from ambiguous to practical.
What decisions are you currently facing that you would like to make based on true wisdom? These decisions may be big life changing decisions or small decisions that over time will affect every part of your life. In seeking wisdom we first of all ask God who gives generously. Secondly, we have a rubric to use to measure the wisdom in the decision we are making.
Today choose one decision you are facing. First take time to ask God for His insight and wisdom on this situation. Next, take time to walk thru each of the qualities Paul listed to begin discovering what the wise answer is to your decision.
What is the…
-full of mercy & good fruit
This may be a process that takes place over time. Or it may be that you are leaning toward a decision that is based on bitter envy and selfish ambition, and taking time to compare your decision to the list Paul gives will shed light on your decision and help you make a wiser choice.
Lord, today I seek Your wisdom in the big and small choices I make. Lord, I pray that my thoughts, words and actions today will not be base on bitter envy or selfish ambition, but rather will be pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy & good fruit, impartial and sincere. Thank you for the forgiveness of sins and that when we ask, You give wisdom generously to all without finding fault. Please let my life reflect Your wisdom. I love you. Amen