If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. James 3:13-14 NLT
James, at the beginning of his book, talked about the importance of obtaining wisdom. In fact, he called on Christians to ask God so that they could obtain wisdom. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1:5). Just like the presence of faith in the life of believers, the presence of wisdom has to be proven “by living an honorable life, doing good works.” A wise and understanding person demonstrates in what he says and by what he does that he possesses wisdom. James qualifies the term wise with the word understanding. This means that a wise person also has experience, knowledge, and ability. Wisdom consists of having insight and expertise to draw conclusions that are correct. There is an old proverb that says: “Foresight is better than hindsight, but insight is best.” Countless instances prove that you will find knowledgeable people but they are not necessarily wise. But when a knowledgeable person has insight, he indeed is wise. If there is a wise and understanding person among you, says James, let him demonstrate this in his honorable life. Our behavior and words will confirm the presence or absence of honorable conduct. Our good works are the results of our relationship with God. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The child of God having godly wisdom will submit one’s life to God’s leading for the manifestations of good works. These good works are the result of humble submission to God. But once we stop relying on God’s working within us, our hearts will be filled with jealousy and selfish ambition. These are acts of a life not in submission to God. This is what Paul also said in Galatians 5:20-21, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear…selfish ambition, …envy.” When Paul admonishes the believers in Ephesus not to grieve the Holy Spirit, he tells them to “get rid of all bitterness” (Ephesians 4:31). A heart that nurtures “envy and selfish ambition” is lacking of heavenly wisdom.