The Heavenly Wisdom
James 3:17-18
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits…

I. ITS PURITY. "First pure" — not in the order of time, but in importance, in the sense that it is the basal attribute of true wisdom.

1. Christ could not be the wisdom of God if He had not been the holiness of God, and we can never be wise if we are not pure.

2. But there is more implied than sinlessness: it means Divine and spiritual energy. Think of the purity of nature, how beautiful it appears when it is renewing its youth in spring. When the grass grows, the trees bud, and the leaves and flowers open, we see the working of the Divine energy bringing fresh forms of life before us, robed in the purity and beauty of the sanctuary of the Divine life. So in moral and spiritual beings their purity is a sign of the Divine energy which is working in and through them, keeping their thoughts holy and their lives sinless.

II. ITS PEACEABLENESS. This means that inward peaceable temper which is the fruit of purity of heart, and is never to be found apart from purity. That Divine energy expels from man's nature all the elements of disorder, discord, and restlessness, and fills the soul with order, harmony, and heavenly peace.

III. ITS GENTLENESS. This was a new spirit brought into the world by Jesus, and which should distinguish His followers from all other men. According to the text, no one is a gentleman in the highest sense of the word if he has not received and is not practising the wisdom that is from above. To the Christian gentleman humanity is sacred, and he can never intentionally hurt the feelings and injure the reputation of others, and will burn in indignation against all that are guilty of such vile and unmanly conduct.

IV. ITS PERSUASIVENESS. True wisdom shows itself, St. James seems to say, in that subtle yet gentle power to persuade and win, which we all feel when we come in contact with one who is clearly not fighting for his own rights, but for the cause of truth. The followers of Jesus speak not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but in the words of the wisdom that is from above, which fell from the mouth of the Incarnate Word. But there is more in this persuasiveness than the power of eloquent and earnest words of entreaty, for its mightiest influence will be felt through the holy lives and deeds of love and kindness of those who are possessors of this heavenly wisdom.

V. ITS MERCIFULNESS AND FRUITFULNESS. The train of thought is carried on. Wisdom is suasive because she is compassionate. In dealing with the froward she is stirred, not by anger, but by pity, and she overflows, not with every vile deed, but with the good fruits of kindly acts. Her purity makes her hate sin with perfect hatred, but she loves the sinner with intensity, and yearns for his return from his sinful ways to walk in her ways of pleasantness and paths of peace. She returns a blessing for a curse, a smile for an insult, good for evil, and with a heart overflowing with benevolence she gives water and bread to her enemies.

VI. ITS IMPARTIALITY. TO suffer wrong to pass uncondemned is impossible to her, for she is first pure. She shows that there is an everlasting distinction between right and wrong, and that according to the necessity of her pure nature she is for the right and against the wrong in whatever form it may show itself. Her eyes that look with compassion upon the oppressed, flash lightnings of holy indignation against the oppressor, and from her mouth that speaks words of heavenly tenderness to the weak, the sorrowful, and the lowly, come thunderbolts against all selfishness, cruelty, sinful ambition, arrogancy of spirit, and pride of heart. And even in the objects of her greatest love and highest delight she detects the least sin and condemns it unreservedly.

VII. ITS GUILELESSNESS. This wisdom is free from all dissimulation, deceit, and trickery, and is as pure as the light, as transparent as the crystal. Let Divine light in the soul illuminates man's whole nature, so that he is perfectly what he appears.

(Z. Mather.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

WEB: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

The Heavenly Origin of Wisdom
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