Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.” Gandhi said that because he had been disgusted by the unchristian attitudes and behaviours of many Christians. It is easy for us to respond simply with “Don’t look to man but to Christ.” However, how can non-Christians see Christ whom they cannot see, unless they see Him in us Christians whom they can see? And how can they see Christ in us, if our attitudes and behaviours as His disciples are unlike His?
James warns us to be wary of ‘wisdom’ that comes ‘from the world’, which is unspiritual and demonic (James 3:15). Such wisdom that comes from the world is commonplace, and it leads to flawed principles, behaviours and attitudes, such as bitter envy, selfish ambition, covetousness, quarrels, fights, boastfulness, and arrogance (James 3:14, 16; 4:2,16; cf. 1 Cor. 3:3). These attitudes and behaviours threaten many of our institutions and destroy relationships. Society pays the price for this flawed wisdom, which is ‘disorder and every evil practice’ (James 3:16).
In contrast, ‘the wisdom that comes from above’ is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere, which should be manifested in us Christians so that non-Christians can see Christ in us (James 3:17). The wisdom that comes from above results in peacemakers who sow in peace and reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18).
The prophet Isaiah says, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes” (Isa. 5:21). As believers in Christ, we must not pursue wisdom that comes from the world, but wisdom that comes from God.
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives” (Prov. 11:30).