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Far-Out Wisdom

James 1:5 - But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

James 3:13­-17 - Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy."
"The Lord told me I'm to marry you," a persistent Christian guy told his Christian girlfriend. "Well, He hasn't given me the same vibrations," replied the confused girl. Maybe you have never been involved in a situation quite like this (yet!), but surely you have often been faced with a decision to make and are confused as to the right answer. You've even prayed about the matter but still there's no "burst of light" or "voice from the sky." You may have some small feeling that God has already given you the answer but you can't be sure. Does the Lord send specific answers? How can a Christian know for sure when he has the Lord's answer?

Our Scriptures above tell us that there is wisdom from God which is definitely available to the Christian upon request. This wisdom is not our own natural "smarts," but is wisdom from above--all the way from heaven--"far out wisdom!" However, this wisdom is not easily or automatically obtained. These Scriptures give us two reasons why. First, the wisdom from God is an answer to prayer (James 1:5). This puts us smack in the middle of an arena of conflict. The wisdom of God comes to prayer warriors across a spiritual battlefield. And answers to prayer are louder and clearer to those in the front lines. As one moves away from the battle zone, the sound becomes less distinct--and ears less trained! The answers are barely heard back in the "rest and relaxation" zones. We must persevere in prayer. (Read Ephesians 6:11-18 and note especially verse 18.) Second, there is another wisdom that shouts to be heard (James 3:15). This wisdom is not from above, but it is the wisdom of this world ("earthly"), which is no higher than man's fallen and sinful mind ("natural") and is even influenced by Satan himself ("demonic"). Which wisdom are you hearing?

Amidst the conflict and the clamor are there any clues given to help us detect the wisdom from above which we are seeking? Yes, both subjective and objective clues! Subjective clues have reference to our own motives. Verses 14 and 15 indicate that if there is any jealousy or selfish ambition involved on our part, then it cannot be the wisdom from God. The voice which says, "Defend your own rights at all costs!" is not the voice of God. The Christian who has wisdom from above is willing to be wronged and walked-on rather than defend his own personal rights and interests. Far-out indeed! (See 1 Corinthians 6:7.) Verse 13 says the same thing in a positive way. The wise Christian is meek! The word "meekness" in the Bible does not convey the idea of weakness or no backbone or "pushover" or Mr. Milquetoast! Meekness has to do with inner attitudes rather than outward actions. It is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest. Our Lord was meek (Matthew 11:29). Consider His words and actions concerning His own personal rights during that mockery of a trial before His crucifixion! If we are characterized by meekness, we will be in tune with the wisdom from above which God longs to share with us. But if the "Big I" is on the throne of our lives, then forget it! We will not only miss out on the answers from above, but, as verse 16 indicates, our lives will be characterized by disorder and worthless activities. In fact, a person so characterized should not even expect an answer from heaven. (See James 1:6­8.)

Objectively, the wisdom from above is clearly defined in verse 17. It is, first of all, pure! The Lord never asks us to do anything shady or under the table. Calling in sick to work in order to have time off to attend a Christian retreat is definitely not God's answer to prayer!

Wisdom from above is peaceable! It never seeks to settle matters by "rocking the boat"--if at all possible.

Wisdom from above is gentle! God's wisdom is always considerate and tender. It is just, but tempered with mercy. In other words, my answer to prayer about my roommate who constantly bugs me will more than likely be "Go the second mile!" (See Matthew 5:41.)

Wisdom from above is reasonable! A pharisaical attitude of, "I've got the last word and you must agree with me," definitely smacks of wisdom from below. A Christian following wisdom from above is not stubborn-minded, narrow-minded, or closed-minded.

Wisdom from above is full of mercy and good fruits! Our fellow students and neighbors are trapped and struggling in the vortex of this doomed, sin-sick world. When we are aligned with God's wisdom we not only feel pity ("mercy") for those in need, but we do something ("good fruits") to help them.

Wisdom from above is unwavering! When God shares His wisdom with us in answer to our earnest prayers, there is no uncertainty or inconsistency about it. We can move out with confidence because we know we have the mind of God.

Wisdom from above is without hypocrisy! This should be so obvious, yet how we fool ourselves into thinking we are walking in the wisdom from above while all along we are doing our own thing and just playacting as "Joe Christian on Campus".

One last thought! If we want to be extra sure that we are in line with wisdom from above, then let us go out to follow the Lord Jesus because "in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). Then we can say for sure "we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16). Far-out, but true!
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