James 3:13-18 – The Gift of Wisdom


James 3:13-18


The wisdom that is from above, given generously by God to all who ask for it, is full of mercy and good fruits, while earthly wisdom is unspiritual and deadly.


These verses resume the focus on wisdom that is introduced in James 1:5-6, and they express a key theological perspective that shapes the whole letter with its predominant motifs of exhortation. Wisdom is certainly the most “perfect” gift that comes down from the Father as part of God’s gifts to creation (1:17), for God gives wisdom generously and ungrudgingly to all who ask for it with sincere and single-minded faith (1:5-6). Just as this perspective breathes with the confidence that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10), it also lives in the confidence that wisdom endows the believer with a single-minded ability to act in responsible ways in the world. Wisdom endures with patience amid testing, knowing that God tempts no one to sin, but that temptation comes from specific wants and desires. This wisdom from above enables and fosters a disciplined unity of hearing and doing that is expressed in impartial acts of mercy, justice, and peace The letter of James is filled with exhortations (there are 59 imperative verbs in its 108 verses). Yet the exhortations are not there to harangue readers. Instead, they are the result of the writer’s confidence that wisdom has real, practical consequences for living in the world.