“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?” What an essential question! We live in a time when our churches are bombarded with all kinds of Christian rhetoric from many quarters. Church leaders, teachers, writers, and laymen often discuss and even debate numerous ideas of how the Christian church should function and what she should believe. In the midst of many voices, who are the wise men who are endued with knowledge? How may we conclusively determine who represents true wisdom from God and who is merely skillful in the art of rhetorical debate?
James, who many years ago raised the query above, quickly answers his own question by stating, “Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” This statement offers the first characteristic of a truly wise man: his wisdom produces behavior in his own life that is marked by virtuous deeds of meekness. This man does much more than offer eloquent ideas on life, but he showcases wisdom with honorable conduct.
“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” another characteristic of a wise man is that he will not debate issues from a heart of “bitter envy”, “strife”, and selfish ambition.
We all know that men have a tendency to allow the spirit of debate to envelope their hearts as they “defend” what they believe to be the truth. Now, it is true that the New Testament records a number of instances where brethren disputed over matters of doctrine. This is necessary and right. But a wise man will never “lie... against the truth” to win a dispute. He will always seek to promote the wisdom of God’s Truth as the ultimate solution of resolution to any dispute. Anything less than this will result in “confusion and every evil work.” When discussions degenerate merely into pitting one’s personal agenda against another’s, or defending one’s eloquent argument against someone else’s, we may rightly conclude that such “wisdom” does not come from above but is “earthly, sensual, and devilish.”
“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. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
While this catalogue of virtues will be promoted in the message of wisdom, they will also be characteristic of the demeanor of the wise messenger. Find a man who embodies these heavenly virtues as he promotes the Gospel, and you will find a wise man who is endued with knowledge from above!
A wise man possesses moral integrity and an impeccably upright character. A wise man is a peacemaker. Strong’s uses the word salutary, which means producing a beneficial effect; promoting health to define peaceable. In other words, a wise man will maintain healthy, beneficial interpersonal relationships as he teaches and promotes true wisdom.
A wise man, while passionate for Truth, is a mild, gentle man, given to moderation and appropriateness when relating to others. He willingly submits his views to the scrutiny and critique of his brethren to receive their input and advice.
A wise man has genuine compassion and mercy for those with whom he relates. His fruitful life of service to others bears testimony of his selflessness. He is impartial and transparently sincere in all that he undertakes to accomplish.
Righteousness flourishes in the context of a wise man promoting a heavenly message of peace and godly wisdom.
Let us draw two conclusions. First of all, the wisdom that comes from God involves much more than verbal or written rhetoric. rather, the wisdom and knowledge that comes from God is recognizable, authenticated, and made effective as it is virtuously lived and practiced by the wise man of God.
Secondly, the attitude and manner in which the wisdom of truth is presented may either distort or enhance its effectiveness. The perception of truth suffers distortion when men seek to “defend” it sanctimoniously. The fact is that God’s Truth needs no defenders; for truth will always exonerate itself. Yet in the midst of many voices claiming to be proponents of truth, we need but to look at the messenger to ascertain whether he teaches an authentic Gospel of heavenly wisdom and truth. When the voice of a wise man is heard, and then complimented by an example that “shows out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom,” that voice will greatly aid the church’s ability to discern and practice the wonderful wisdom and knowledge of God.
~ Peach Bottom PA