False Wisdom and True Wisdom

Passage for Today

James 3:13-18

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 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.


  1. What is true wisdom?
  2. Where does true wisdom begin?
  3. Which of the attributes of wisdom do you struggle with most? "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding." (Psalm 111:10) Spend time in prayer, asking God to grow you in the fear of the Lord and in wisdom.


By Lifeway

The wisdom of the world is rooted in selfishness. While our culture disciples us to believe that our determination, our truth, and our happiness are the most important priorities in life, these ideas run contrary to God’s Word. All people were meant to find their ultimate purpose and delight in God. True wisdom means we embrace God’s vision of how the world works.
Two false beliefs drive all of your destructive behavior:

1. My life is about me. My happiness matters most. I am utmost in my affections.

2. No absolute, objective standard exists by which I must live. All people have the right to their own preferences and opinions about what will make them happy.

These statements pretty much summarize the prevailing philosophy in today’s culture, right?
Let the implications of those beliefs sink in for a moment. Approximately seven billion people live on the planet. Seven billion people can’t all be right. Seven billion people can’t all do whatever they want. Seven billion people can’t all determine their own paths to personal happiness. Seven billion people can’t be at the center of the universe. This is a chaotic impossibility. And we know it’s impossible, but we love the lie.

What then is true wisdom? True wisdom is inseparable from good conduct. Faith works. Wisdom acts. Your actions reveal what you truly believe, just as words are the fruit born from whatever is rooted deep in your heart. This is a dominant theme of James’s epistle. You’ve already encountered this foundational truth in James 1:22; 2:14-26.

It’s easy to deceive yourself into thinking you’ve checked off all the right theological boxes, believing the right things about Jesus but continuing to live according to a worldview that’s just like everybody else around you.  

*  This devotion was found at Bible.com titled “James: Faith/Works” by Lifeway.

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