It merits repeating that James tied wisdom to fine conduct. Because the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom, a wise person strives to conduct himself in harmony with God’s ways and standards. We are not born with godly wisdom. Still, we can gain it by regular Bible study and meditation. These will help us to do what Ephesians 5:1 urges: “Become imitators of God.” The more we conduct ourselves in harmony with Jehovah’s personality, the more we will display wisdom in our actions. Jehovah’s ways are vastly superior to those of humans. (Isa. 55:8, 9) So as we copy Jehovah’s way of doing things, outsiders will see that there is something different about us.
James shows that one way to be like Jehovah is to have “a mildness that belongs to wisdom.” Although mildness involves being gentle, at the same time a Christian can have strength of character, which helps him to act in a balanced way. Though limitless in strength, God is mild, and we are not afraid to approach him. God’s Son reflected his Father’s mildness so well that he could say: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.”—Matt. 11:28, 29; Phil. 2:5-8.
The Bible tells of others who were outstanding in mildness, or meekness. Moses was one. He had great responsibility, yet he is described as “by far the meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground.” (Num. 11:29; 12:3) And recall the strength that Jehovah gave Moses to carry out His will. Jehovah was pleased to use mild individuals to fulfill his purpose.
Clearly, it is possible for imperfect humans to display the “mildness that belongs to wisdom.” What about us? How can we improve in showing this quality? Mildness is part of the fruitage of Jehovah’s holy spirit. (Gal. 5:22, 23) We can pray for his spirit and consciously exert effort to display its fruitage, trusting that God will help us to improve in showing mildness. We find solid motivation to do so in the psalmist’s assurance: “[God] will teach the meek ones his way.”—Ps. 25:9.
Nevertheless, it may take real effort to improve in this area. Because of our background, some of us may not be inclined to be mild. Moreover, people around us may encourage an opposite viewpoint, saying that a person has to “fight fire with fire.” However, is this really wise? If a small fire broke out in your house, would you douse it with oil or with cool water? Pouring oil on the fire would make matters worse, whereas dousing it with cool water would likely bring the desired result. Likewise, the Bible counsels us: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.” (Prov. 15:1, 18) The next time irritations arise, either inside or outside the congregation, can we see how we can show true wisdom by reacting in a mild way?—2 Tim. 2:24.
As noted above, many who are influenced by the spirit of the world are far from gentle, peaceful, and calm. Rather, we find harsh and arrogant people in abundance. James was aware of this, and he gave warnings so that individuals in the congregation could avoid being corrupted by such a spirit. What more can we learn from the counsel he gave?