The Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus indicates that the statement – “The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” is a British expression which is ‘said to mean that you can only judge the quality of something after you have tried, used, or experienced it.’
Each culture has its wise sayings, shared through oral tradition or in in today’s abbreviated communication world in tweets, Facebook posts and text messages or perhaps Pinterest boards.
In James 3:13-18 James contrasts two very different types of wisdom. He hooks the readers into the quest for wisdom with one question – “Who is wise and understanding among you?”
In every family, every culture, every nation, some are much wiser than others. The entire group of JBBs (Jewish background believers) to whom James is writing needed wisdom. Everyone needs this virtue and two main types of wisdom are available to be obtained.
#1 An earthly, unspiritual, demonic wisdom marked by pride, envy, selfishness which produces disorder and evil practices in the lives of those who employ it.
#2 A heavenly, spiritual, godly wisdom marked by humility, compersion (I looked that one up!), and selflessness which produces order and good practices in the lives of those who employ it.
So, ‘who is wise and understanding among you?‘ Who has wisdom worth hearing, reading, learning from and following, James asks. Answer? ‘Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done…’ As NLSS (now TDSS) the high school I attended proclaimed in Latin on their coat of arms ‘Facta non Verba’ – ‘Deeds not Words.’
Wisdom is shown. The proof of wisdom is in living. As Andy Stanley asked in one of last year’s sermon series, “What is the wise thing to do?” This question must recapture us as 2016 begins. Asking the question does not even guarantee for Pastor Stanley the correct answer or that he will use what God provides. The wisdom that is so desperately requested, if indeed we ask God for it (James 1:5) must be used. Don’t bother asking if you have already made up your own mind as to your course of action.
Scripture offers to us entire sections which are known as WISDOM literature (namely the books of Hebrew Poetry). Proverbs offers to us the ‘proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Isarel: for attaining wisdom and discipline. Read the corresponding historical sections on Solomon and you’ll discover the young king who pled for wisdom at his coronation became an old foolish king who had turned away in many aspects of daily living from the wisdom God gave. May 2016 not be such a year in our lives! I thank God this day for Jesus Christ, ‘who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.’ May He be your wisdom each day!