There are two kinds of people in this world… Those who operate under Earthly Wisdom and those who operate under Heavenly Wisdom. True wisdom is a combination of being wise, knowledgeable, and justly applying both. However, it’s possible to have knowledge and not use it wisely.
Firstly, earthly wisdom is nonspiritual and demonic. Such wisdom is not from God, which makes the focus more on personal smarts and self-dependence. Worldly wisdom is selfish and self-centered; stemming from a place of desires and pleasures. This type of wisdom most often leads to quarrel, contention, and all sorts of disorder. “Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:15-16)
Practical Application: Earthly wisdom looks like a husband cheating on his wife as an excuse for not being happy at home. It resembles a coworker sabotaging the other by any means necessary in order to get a promotion. It looks like a Pastor setting up an abortion for his pregnant teenage daughter so his reputation will not be sullied, and his “perfect family” image will not be jeopardized.
On the other hand, heavenly wisdom is spiritual and Godly. This kind of wisdom does not solely depend on intellect, but also on spiritual guidance. As a result, heavenly wisdom is Christ-centered, full of mercy, and humility. It has no ulterior motives or selfish gains. It is quick to forgive but slow to judge. “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.” (James 3:17)
Practical Application: Heavenly wisdom looks like a wife forgiving her cheating husband when everybody is advising her to divorce. It looks like a coworker selflessly helping his teammate so they can both rise to the top. Heavenly wisdom resembles a Pastor impartially having his pregnant teenage daughter re-baptize as well as carry her child to term.
We’re quick to identify ourselves with the group of people in this world who operates under heavenly wisdom–especially if we’re Christians. Yet, if we’re honest with ourselves we’ll admit that most of the time we fall into the other category. We have to be careful not to use our smarts and knowledge only for personal satisfaction. Even though God is not pleased with “luke-warm” anything, it’s a fact we most often find ourselves bordering on the brink of earthly and heavenly wisdom. It’s hard work consistently relying on heavenly wisdom…but it’s not impossible.
Practical Application: Instead of being quick to judge a brother or sister who has fallen prey to fornication, stealing, lying, or even conceitedness, let God’s understanding spirit take over. Offer to be the voice of empathy and forgiveness rather than the voice of condemnation and scorn. Give a helping hand to a neighbor or church member…just because; not to gain any brownie points with God or anyone, but just out of caring. When being hurt or wronged, choose to respond in peace and with mercy. Again, it’s not easy, but it’s possible. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13)