“Wisdom From Above” (James 3: 17 – 18, ESV) by Carley Evans


Bitter jealousy, boasting, selfish ambition, disorder, vile practices, quarrels, even murder — this is “not the wisdom that comes from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 3: 15)

James contrasts this earthly knowledge with “the wisdom from above” which he writes is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

James tells us that “[our] passions are at war within [us].” What we want, we do not obtain and so we fight, even murder. “[We] ask and do not receive, because [we] ask wrongly, to spend it on [our] passions.” (James 4: 1, 3) James further writes, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” (James 3: 8 – 9)

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4: 17)

On the other hand, as we cultivate peace — taming our ambitions, our tongue, our covetousness — then “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace.” (James 3: 18) This is the wisdom from above — “open to reason” and “full of mercy.”