Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
Wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing. Surely, we all know somebody who fits the bill of having lots of book knowledge but no common sense. In fact, I have been accused of that very thing myself! How many down South have heard the phrase, “That boy ain’t got no common sense!”?
Wisdom can be defined as, “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” This definition was put in the dictionary with life in mind, but certainly applies to our relationship with God’s Word as well. In fact, one might say it is the key to our relationship with God’s Word. Proverbs 4:7 sums up in one sentence the importance of wisdom in our spiritual lives:
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
We have discussed in some depth that an intellectual, or head knowledge, about God’s Word or about Jesus Christ does not necessarily translate into a saving faith. The same is true concerning our intellectual knowledge about The Bible. We can know the whole thing from front to back and still not possess wisdom concerning it.
Wisdom regarding God’s Word, then, might be defined as the ability to take a knowledge of the facts in The Bible and transfer that knowledge into practical applications in our lives. God did not inspired the writers of The Bible to write so that we would have facts; He intended us to take His Word and use it as our guide for faith and life.
We ought not to be surprised that James is addressing this subject; in fact, it would be rather surprising if he did not talk about it. After all, the entire Epistle is about the practical applications of the Christian life.
Also, it may be possible here that James is simply continuing his discourse on our tongues, and the things which come out of our mouths. A lack of wisdom causes things to come out of our mouths which destroy, and the presence of wisdom causes things to come from our mouths which edify and build up.
We are going to spend a bit of time on this particular passage, but here is just a question to ponder over in the meantime: Are we smart, or are we wise?