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What is wisdom? James 1:5

December 3, 2009

James 1:5: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

A good friend of mine recently shared they thought I was very wise, which was lovely to hear! But it wasn’t until I read this amazing passage in James that I realised my understanding of ‘wisdom’ was a bit under cooked.  My simplistic definition was that wise people said things that made sense.  But in exploring James 1:5 I have discovered there is way more to wisdom.

If knowledge is knowing something, wisdom is acting on what you know.  Wisdom is practical action, so a knowledgable man knows that a house should be built on a rock, whereas the wise man actually builds the house on a rock (Matthew 7: 24).  Wisdom is doing, and the wisdom mentioned in James 1:5 is not worldly wisdom, but God’s wisdom.  And God’s wisdom is communicated to us through the Holy Spirit.  Being wise is about reading the Word of God and doing the Word of God.  It is about putting into action what we know.

Another friend I was chatting with yesterday shared that in her experience many people cry out for help but aren’t really prepared to act to change the issue.  Taking action is so important.  There are things in my life that I know are a problem and acting to address these problems is absolutely in God’s will :  and taking action is wisdom.

So Lord I ask for wisdom, I invite you into my life to guide and instruct me via your Holy Spirit.  Time to take action!!

God bless,

Rev Mark Brown

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35 Comments
  1. Susan permalink

    Thank you for this reminder….it was a word in due season for me!

  2. God is sooo right and so are you . It’s so easy to read the wisdom He brings . If one is truly willing to listen wholeheartedly . It comes easy to hear from him use the Word through His Spirit inside all believers . The greatest test is acting on it correctly . As well as the faith tests that go along with it . If we are completely not willing to choose to believe from what we hear of Him and take action . We remain just as closed off from God and in the dark . Yet we are still able to hear from Him again . So long as we seek him for forgiveness and act on what he says to help us not fall away from listening and unbelief . As we once did before .

  3. sharon permalink

    Thank you for confirmation on this subject. I have always thought that knowledge is knowing what to do, wisdom is doing what we know to do, and understanding is knowing why. (also knowing when to act on the knowledge and wisdom)
    Your site has really been a blessing, and I thank you for your constancy. I am a minister and an Assoc. Pastor, so I really am blessed by your work. Isn’t the Holy Spirit awesome?

  4. Dutch permalink

    God’s peace transcends all understanding! Praise God’s wisdom! I like that, being wise is about reading the Word of God, and doing the Word of God!

  5. I always liked Joyce Meyer’s definition of wisdom; “doing today what you’ll be happy with tomorrow.” Knowing the right thing and not doing it is not wisdom! Thanks Mark.

  6. I thought it was easier when we train our heart to listen to His Voice which is the Truth, right?

  7. Indead being wise is to read His Word and to act like He says! Praise Lord!!!

  8. Patsy Bond permalink

    God knows what I need…I needed to read this today. I am one who needs to change some behavior when it comes to a family member. I need the wisdom of Gods word to always be my response. It is Gods wisdom that needs to be seen, not mine. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference. Amen.

  9. malvia permalink

    thank you for showing me the understanding of this verse I never look at it this way before praise God for His revealation

  10. I just wanted to say that God must have us on the same thought process because I just did a Devotional surrounding that verse on my blog a couple of days ago. I’m constantly asking Him for wisdom. I love to witness to people and I definitely do not want my own thoughts interfereing with His. I desire for His light to shine through me to others, therefore I cannot let my own thoughts come through above My God’s. After all, I am not to lean on my own understanding. Therefore, to be an effective witness for Him, He must do the talking, and provided me the wisdom to hear and understand him when He is talking to me.

    Thank you for allowing me to speak my feelings.

    • Karen Rhoades permalink

      Thank you very much for speaking up here and on your blog. Both have helped with what I’m trying to figure out.

  11. thank you mark for you words they do help and i hope you are blessed the rest of this week cecil b

  12. Mark, I am so thankful for this site. The time and effort you put into this is helping so many people. This is truly a ministry lead by the Holy Spirit. I just had Wednesday night bible study. Our teacher taught us that having a lot of well learned christians is not enough. Those christians need to act on what they have learned. To many of us read and hear the word and don’t act on it. We act on it to a certain extent but not the way we need to. We need to approach our relationship with God the same way we do other activities. We are an entertainment centered society. We have been taught that we have to be entertained. We fill our lives with fun things to do to the point that we don’t make time for God. Sure we work hard and need some time for rest and relaxation. Even God rested on the 7th day. I just feel we need to free our schedules up a little so that we don’t leave God out. Skip that ballgame or that trip to the mall. These things will all pass but the kingdom of heaven will never pass. Pray that we as his people will make time for God and do his will.

  13. Amen! Wisely said 😉

  14. Lydia Reyes permalink

    I also ask God to give me knowledge and wisdom. I also ask , that His Holy Spirit would be the guiding light in my life. On my own I sometime loose my way, but with him , I can do all the things that he wants me to do. God is so awesome and is always there when we call on him in faith. I thank God that in this site he gives me more opportunities to grow in knowledge and wisdom of his word . For all those who share , Thank You and God Bless

  15. Meagan permalink

    Awesome passage Mark, hope you don’t mind I posted it on my facebook under fav quotes so my friends can read it too! (I cited you of course though<3<3) GOD Bless you and your family!!

  16. Drawing the dynamic, 3-stage connection between KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM and ACTION parallel to “building one’s house on rock” –the site of choice for the “sacred” and sustainable faith or the priceless gift from the Lord Jesus in his death on the cross (John 1: 47-51; 19: 30-37; Matt. 7: 24-25)– surely makes our calculations complete and the house secure!

    • For discussion, I submit the following extremely difficult application of the “key that opens all the hidden treasures of God’s wisdom and knowledge” requiring a prior, vision-based working knowledge of Christ himself, viz.: “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18; 2: 2-3; Rev. 1: 5-8, 17-18; 5) as defined in his experientially knowable self-revelation at his perfect and diacritical/transfigurative death as exactly anticipated by Moses and Elijah (Luke 9: 28-36) and taught and accomplished by Jesus on the cross (19: 30-37).

      Remember that the first success rate, in the training of the twelve disciples, was as low as 16.67 percent and improved to 100 percent only after 40 days of rehabilitation (Acts. 1: 1-5).

  17. Karen Rhoades permalink

    Thanks for this devo. I read this passage last night and couldn’t quite make sense of it (probably because reading it at midnight didn’t help either). I now know for certain that God wants my attention in this area. I’ll continue to seek him out and ask for wisdom.

  18. Lynne Rissler permalink

    If we will ask Him,God will give His people wisdom in life and insight into why we encounter. Various trials and tesrs

  19. Charmion Were permalink

    This word has really blessed me this morning, and has helped me understand that taking action on a matter is extremely important. “Taking Action is Wisdom”

  20. Rev Mark, this is so amazing. Now i’ve realised that I’m not wise at all, i’m asking the Great wise God to make me wise. Thank you so much

  21. Robert Herrington permalink

    One of the differences between knowledge and wisdom is that wisdom sometimes takes courage. Asking for wisdom from the Father sometimes means you are asking for the strength to do what you already know needs to be done. Knowing that HE is our strength can enable us to accomplish what our fear might prevent us from doing. Thank you Rev. Brown.

  22. Well said! Just found your blog, good stuff. God Bless.

  23. Edith Partlow permalink

    God has used you to speak to me this morning. Thank you for listening to our Father and acting on what He tells you. Acting on the knowledge that He gives…wisdom….what a revelation. Thanks be to God!

  24. dillon miller permalink

    For real wisdom is truly following god’s word oppose to just knowing it.

  25. dawn permalink

    thank god for you. i really look forward for you sharing your knowledge with me. this will surely help me when i have to preach. god bless you.

  26. Wow, I just posted an article about the same exact thing! this very same day. God is talking. Great read.

  27. Stacy permalink

    I never thought about wisdom in that way, but that makes sense. 🙂

  28. janet permalink

    Your explanation was good. It’s not just knowing it is doing.

  29. julie permalink

    This was very informative. One thing you may have skipped was going from knowledge to ‘understanding’ then to wisdom. I think you are right on, but in the ‘understanding’ part, God gives us the ‘why’ of the knowledge. And then, as you say, wisdom is the ‘doing’ part. Knowledge is the facts God gives, understanding is the why, and wisdom is the do. Thanks…keep on digging. This was a blessing.

  30. To all who seek wisdom and the real truth/understanding of God’s Word I recommend that you visit this location.. http://www.RCG.org All your questions will be answered, your knowledge and understanding of His word will increase, and the seeds of His wisdom will germinate in your mind leading to an understanding of His purpose being worked out here on earth. Do it now, please!!

  31. God is wise , He departs His wisdom to us as we ask, and as he sees necessary .

    Wisdom is not a verb, it is a noun.
    God gave wisdom to Solomon ,so he could depart the Knowledge to the seekers. And the seekers could do as they wished with it.

    Seekers are the verb here, and are the doers

  32. The best way I know to wisdom is through understanding. May you find some here:
    http://www.biblegateway.com/ As they have access to several Bibles and in different languages. May God Bless…

  33. Laura permalink

    Job 28:20 Where then does wisdom come from, and where is understanding located? It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing…
    Job 28:20 He/God said to mankind,” Look! The fear of the Lord- that is wisdom, and to turn from evil is understanding.”

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