Show Your Works Are Done With Wisdom

Moses representing Wisdom.

Rays of light, symbolically represented as horns on the head of Moses (Michelangelo), can be a graphic symbol of Wisdom.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.”

James is known as a writer in the “Wisdom Tradition,” much like Solomon to whom is attributed much of the book of Proverbs. When I read this verse (chapter 3, verse 13), I thought, so what is wisdom?

Did you ever read a word 1,000 times and then stop and ask, “Just what do they mean by that?”

So, I looked it up in Wikipedia. Here are some things I learned. “Wisdom is the judicious application of knowledge.” I first have to know something. But knowing isn’t enough. I have to apply that knowledge somewhere in my life. Shoot, here we go with the parts of speech again. We start out with a noun (a thing) and then move to a verb (something we do). Kind of like when I just wrote about love as an action verb, wisdom also leads to action.

What!? We can’t just sit around being wise?

Wikipedia continues, “It is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one’s emotional reactions (the “passions”) so that universal principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one’s actions. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true coupled with optimum judgment as to action.”

Sounds a lot like James. He asks, “Are you wise?” I bet that could be a trick question. I can imagine him in a gathering of Christians asking that question. And someone raises their hand and says, “Oooh, Oooh, I am.” You know that kid from school.

Then James says, “Good. But don’t tell me. Show me.” It’s not enough to be wise, you must show it. Doesn’t that sound like the entire Gospel? It’s not enough to know, you have to do.

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