“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his fine conduct his works with a mildness that belongs to wisdom.”—JAS. 3:13.
WHOM do you think of as truly wise? Perhaps your parents, an aged man, or maybe a college professor? Your view of who is wise may be influenced by your background and circumstances. However, God’s servants are primarily interested in his viewpoint.
Not all whom the world considers wise are truly wise in God’s eyes. For example, Job spoke to men who viewed themselves as speaking words of wisdom, but he concluded: “I do not find anyone wise among you.” (Job 17:10) As to some who rejected the knowledge of God, the apostle Paul wrote: “Although asserting they were wise, they became foolish.” (Rom. 1:22) And through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah himself said pointedly: “Woe to those wise in their own eyes.”—Isa. 5:21.
Clearly, we need to determine what makes one truly wise and thus a recipient of God’s favor. Proverbs 9:10 offers us this insight: “The fear of Jehovah is the start of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Most Holy One is what understanding is.” The wise must have a proper fear of God and a respect for his standards. However, more is needed than just intellectual acceptance of God’s existence and ways. The disciple James stimulates our thinking about this. (Read James 3:13.) Notice the expression: “Let him show out of his fine conduct his works.” True wisdom should be seen in what you do and say every day.
True wisdom involves exercising sound judgment and applying knowledge and understanding in a successful way. What actions will reveal that we possess such wisdom? James lists a number of things that will be evident in the actions of those who are wise.* What did he say that can help us to have good relations with fellow believers, as well as with people outside the congregation?
The context indicates that James had first in mind the older men, or “teachers,” of the congregation. (Jas. 3:1) These men should certainly be examples in displaying godly wisdom, yet all of us can learn from his counsel.