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Litmus Test for Wisdom

The book of James tells us a lot about wisdom. Who doesn’t want to be wise in the decisions they make? What does it take to become wise?
Wisdom from heaven is far above our natural abilities. James gives us a litmus test for wisdom that helps us determine how close or far away we are from what God knows is best.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:17-18).

If you are trying to determine whether what your wisdom is coming from heaven, consider these eight qualities to your decision as a litmus test for wisdom.

  • Is your option pure? God’s truth is pure truth and it always unifies.
  • Does the decision you are making have the potential to unify? Pure truth does that. Pure wisdom unifies so therefore it will lead to peace. Is that the goal of your decision? Do you desire peace above division? Jesus’ first word to the disciples when He was reunited with them after His resurrection was Peace. Wisdom will always value peace.

Now God breaks things down to the nitty-gritty.

  • Are you being considerate? If I have passed the first litmus test of being pure, of course it is going to be peace-loving and considerate. How else can it be? However, James asks us to look to the minor details of being considerate to all involved. You cannot be wise if you are not being considerate.
  • Is it submissive? Wisdom always submits to God’s best. When we look to His word to come up with an answer we submit to God. Jesus submitted to God’s plan above his own. Submission requires humility, a virtue that is surprisingly missing from this list, but most likely implied.
  • Is there room for mercy upon mercy in your decision? I love that wisdom is not just merciful, but full of mercy. Full…that means there is enough for all, mercy does not run out. Then it is wise for sure.
  • Wisdom is not only full of mercy; it is also full of good fruit. Where there is wisdom, there will be goodness. You can spot wisdom when there is evidence of living a fruitful life. Wisdom bears fruit that is ripe and full of goodness.

You would think wisdom is done but there’s more.

  • Wisdom is impartial. I love this about wisdom. Impartial is a strange virtue to connect to wisdom. But with further thought, how much more wise can you be than to be impartial. This means that your wisdom will be fair to all!
  • Lastly, wisdom is sincere. Honest, straightforward, not manipulating toward a certain result. Wisdom will be pure and sincere. It will produce a harvest of righteousness in the end.

Does your wisdom pass the test of heavenly wisdom?


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