Jas 3:13-15 “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. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.”
As James has so often done in this letter, I will remind you that the audience for this letter is “beloved brethren.” At no point has this been addressed to anyone else. This is instruction to God’s children who know Him and who believe on Jesus Christ. The persecution they have suffered because of their belief in Jesus (Act 8:1-4) is why they are “scattered abroad (Jas 1:1).”
One definition of “endue” is to “invest or provide, as with some quality or trait (Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition).” When we have knowledge that is pertinent to the kingdom of God in the earth, we are endued with it. By the working of the Holy Spirit, we come into knowledge that is otherwise too great for us. By the Spirit, we know things that the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man (1Co 2:9-10).
We are wise when we understand that the things of God are too great for us to discern on our own. We are wise when we acknowledge that God has invested (endued) us with knowledge. If we boast of what we know as though that knowledge came by us, we are not wise. The scripture gives us a way to recognize wise men.
Wisdom is something that can be seen. James says if we are wise then we are to show or demonstrate wisdom. Wisdom is demonstrated out of a good conversation. Our good conversation is the result of bridling our tongue and turning about the body to walk in knowledge. However, the word translated as “conversation” here does not mean to carry on a speech.
Conversation as used here comes from the Greek word “anastrophē.” According to Strong’s this word means behavior. We show our wisdom out of our good (virtuous) behavior. Just as faith without works is dead, it is not possible to demonstrate wisdom without action (works). These actions are never to be high-handed but rather displayed with humility of heart.
If we allow our knowledge of the things of God to cause us to become arrogant with His children, then we are not wise. When we carry about a seed of bitter jealousy and are factious in our hearts, we are not wise. If we have bitter envying and strife in our hearts, we are in no way in a position to rejoice over (glory not) the truth. To do so is actually to lie against the truth. We have nothing to glory in except our Lord Jesus (2Co 10:17).
If our so-called wisdom makes us haughty then it does not come from above. It is not generated from the knowledge with which we have been endued. This wisdom is of the earth. It is sensual and devilish. Yes, God’s people can engage in that which is sensual (according to our nature) and may even appear to be demon-like. The source of our wisdom is known by the manner of our behavior.
May the Holy Spirit guide us to true knowledge of the things of God and may we behave ourselves wisely in that knowledge with a good behavior and humble labor!