Whenever we face a tough dilemma we are quick to research. We may google or text our friends, hoping for help. There are so many voices, so many opinions out there. Whatever advice we find, we must consider – is this godly wisdom? Is this the right thing to do? Sometimes the suggestions we receive only make the decision more complicated.
Thankfully Scripture informs us of what true wisdom is. The Bible may not address the many gray areas of life or every single situation, but it gives guidelines for recognizing the way that pleases God – the way of righteousness, peace, and life.
God’s Word not only helps us make a wise choice, but it instructs us on how we can be a wise woman.
Whether you’re told a piece of advice or seeking to offer advice to others, align it with the Word to evaluate whether the words are from above.
Along with the rich wisdom of Proverbs, James 3 tells us much about how we can embody wisdom and what to look for in a counselor.
“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.”(ESV)
Interestingly many of these characteristics of wisdom coincide with what God says He desires for women in other passages of Scripture, such as in 1 Peter 3, Titus 2, and Philippians 4.
Let’s break these qualities named in James down.
What Wisdom is Not
One red flag will always pop up when an opinion is not from the Lord – the flag of selfishness.
Someone – or likely even your own heart – may prod you to serve your interests rather than that of others. To serve your desires rather than God’s. But this path leads to sin – to decay and spiritual death – not the Spirit.
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6
The King James Version translates James 3:16 in this way: “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
Strife in our heart to have our way, to seek our good over others, leads to strife outside. It only leads to further confusion.
When we advise our heart or someone else to choose self over God, “disorder” will result. Why? Because such a path most likely goes against God’s Word. . .
To be a woman of wisdom, we want our decisions, motivations, and actions to revolve around Christ and His Kingdom, not our self. Not the world.
“Selfish ambition” in James 3:16 comes from the Greek word eritheia, which technically describes a person who advances himself forward in court at the cost of another or at the cost of peace. It is a person who stirs up tension, and has no regard for unity.
When we move on to verses 17 and 18 in James 3, we see the contrast.
The source of real wisdom is God. Thus, it reflects God’s purity. God’s holiness. God’s love. Many of the qualities are overlapping; because they’re all intertwined in God’s character.
What Wisdom is:
A wise woman’s advice presents truth as it is, and seeks what is morally upright.
A wise woman does not look to cause division, but rather for what leads to “mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19) and Christlikeness for all.
A wise woman does not force her opinion, press too strongly, or provoke a quarrel, but shares counsel that exhibits patience, courtesy, and grace (Titus 3:2).
4. Open to Reason
A wise woman considers all sides. She does not jump to conclusions, but listens intently with a willingness to obey authorities and heed sense.
5. Full of Mercy and Good Fruits
A wise woman readily extends kindness and compassion, especially toward the downtrodden, struggling, or undeserving. With such an attitude, her advice grows good fruit in a person’s life – what is excellent, useful, honorable, and pleasant.
A wise woman’s advice judges without any underlying motives or personal bias, and has no shades of deceit or ill intent. It does not waver from God’s Word, but is steadfast.
A wise woman is not only impartial, but earnest in her advice. She wishes to love, and love genuinely, without being fake or hypocritical. Her advice is not based on her own wants or feelings, but by standing on the solid Rock of Scripture.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Romans 12:9
What a list! It prompts my own heart to prayer, for how easily I fall short when it comes to decision-making or counseling others.
Praise the Lord that we have a perfect example in Jesus!
He was all of those things and more, dispensing wisdom from above to His disciples, the crowds, and even the Pharisees without a hint of selfishness. He was firm when necessary, but through actions and words always delivered advice that would lead to God.
May we recall these qualities of His whenever we need wisdom, and whenever we wish to be a woman of wisdom.