“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:14-17, ESV)
Near the beginning of his letter, James encourages his readers to ask for wisdom if they lack it. Who doesn’t need wisdom? As full-time missionaries we are in the occupation of making disciples and are especially in need of wisdom; because more often than not, we are dealing with things unseen.
Some of the most treacherous unseen stuff is in my own heart. Why am I asking for wisdom? Could it be that I just want the same kind of fruit as that guy that ran the DMT training? Or that guy I saw on Youtube or that other missionary that started the same time as I did, but seems to have far more stories of God working miraculously? Bitter jealousy. I am double-minded in my petition. I shouldn’t think I’ll receive anything from God.
Or maybe I have a really great vision for what the kingdom could be, for what churches working together could actually look like, for what church free from all of the hindering traditions of men could achieve. It’s a wonderful, godly sounding vision, but guess why I want it—my own self-image, my little religious kingdom, my own sense of accomplishment. Selfish ambition. Double-minded again. I shouldn’t think that I will receive anything from God.
A tree is known for its fruit. Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, disorder and every vile practice aren’t far behind. Hopefully God will give me the grace to see it before it gets out of hand, but I’ll know soon enough (and possibly so will quite a few other people) if my heart is in the wrong spot in pursuit of wisdom. I’ll also know if my search for wisdom comes from a pure heart. Does my search leave a wake of gentleness, open dialogue, peace, mercy and other fruits of the Spirit? Are people encouraged by it? Inspired by it? Is God using my search for wisdom to build up the Body of Christ around me? Then I may definitely expect to receive something from God above because I am genuinely seeking the wisdom that comes from above.
God places a high value on the genuine search for His wisdom. Consider how He responded to Solomon’s request for wisdom to govern Israel. How much more will He honor a humble request for wisdom to reach out to lost people He loves very much or to lead a portion of His Bride, whom He will present to Himself without any spot or wrinkle or blemish? Seeking wisdom is seeking God’s heart. He will meet you and me on that search.
Warmly in Christ, Fred Swartz
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8, ESV)
What fleshly motives for wisdom are you most prone to?
How has God convicted you of times when you were seeking His wisdom for the wrong reason?