A few years back I wrote a blog on seeking and obtaining wisdom, but I will be honest, I have sometimes had a hard time discerning what exactly "wisdom" is and how to recognize it when I see it. For example, I would seek or pray for wisdom in a given circumstance, and then have different ideas on how to procede, but would always be stuck wondering which of these options were "wise" and which were of my own intentions. They all seemed like fairly good ideas, but which one is the wisest? Or perhaps it doesn't involve options but simply a choice on whether or not to procede. What wisdom is there in proceding? What wisdom is there in not? You may draw out a "pros" and "cons" list but still be left vacillating.
I have read James numerous times, and it's funny how we can read over the simplest of applications when they are staring us in the face. In Chapter 3 he writes:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
We literally have a map of how to discern what is wise. We don't need
a pros or cons list, because we have it right here in front of us.
So when asking God, "How should I handle this?" or
"Should I proceed with this?", run your idea or situation down the list
in verse 17:
1): Is it pure? The greek for pure in this passage is hagnos, from the greek word hagios, which means to be clean, modest, or morally blameless. Is what you are seeking, or the idea you are pondering fit within these terms? Would proceeding be moral, and be "above reproach" as Paul tells us to be multiple times in 1 Timothy and Titus?
2): Is it peaceable? That is to say, will it bring peace or produce good effects. One of the definitons it gives along with this word in the greek is "quietness" and "rest". This of course, may be a hard one to answer, especially when considering if other people are involved, and one can never assume the reaction of others. But are your intentions peaceable? Or do you have an ulterior motive (or perhaps hidden desire) to cause a disturbance?
3:) Is it gentle? Is your approach appropriate given the circumstances? Is there patience and moderation?
4:) Are you open to reason? In the greek it literally just means to be easily persuaded. This isn't to imply being a push-over, but are you open to having your position changed? Are you willing to be wrong?
5:) Is it full of mercy and good fruits? Pressing forward, would you be compassionate? Is it compassionate to press forward at all? Will it produce good fruit?
6: Are you impartial and sincere? Are you approaching the situation and treating all involved fairly, without discrimination and partiality? Some translations may say "hypocrisy" instead of "sincere", which is a more accurate translation. But are you honest and sincere?
Wisdom shouldn't be as complicated as I have made it out to be.
And as he says in Chaper 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask
God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."
In 1 Kings 3, God appears to Solomon and says he can ask anything of Him,
and the only thing he asked for was wisdom. Not only did he get wisdom, but
other gifts on top of that.
I know I constantly have to ask for wisdom, because without it I will
(like I do many times) do something stupid.
I hope this will be of use to some. Blessings.