Honor, Credit, and Godly Wisdom

Rebecca Van Noord

1 Samuel 15:1–35; James 3:13–18; Psalm 119:121–136

We’re primed to seek validation. Earning “likes” on our social media outlets gives us a sense of self-worth. Getting kudos for a good idea at work makes us feel important. When this is how we derive our self-worth, the opposite will also be true: Being overlooked can crush us, making us angry and jealous if others have stolen the limelight.

If we’re not careful, we can easily become ruled by our need for validation. James calls this mindset and behavior “earthly,” “unspiritual,” and even “demonic” (Jas 3:15).

When we are guided by it, chaos reigns: “For where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice” (Jas 3:16). We may be aware of how often we are tempted to follow our earthly responses, and we might try to practice restraint. We try to filter the forces at work inside us, but this won’t solve the heart of the problem, as James shows us. He contrasts human ambition with godly wisdom, which “comes from above” (Jas 3:15). He lists the virtues that display godly wisdom: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, obedient, full of mercy and good fruits, nonjudgmental, without hypocrisy” (Jas 3:17).

We can’t attain these virtues on our own. When we’re tempted to follow our gut response, to protect and promote our own image, we have to examine our hearts and confess our earthly desires to God. Then, we should seek the wisdom from above—the wisdom found in Jesus. Only He can make us new, and His Spirit can enable us to intentionally follow Him and seek godly wisdom.

How are you seeking and praying for godly wisdom?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.