James explains that there are two kinds of wisdom that we can pursue. One is of the devil and the other is from heaven. It says in James 3 verses 13 through 17:
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 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.”
James explains that wisdom is good only if it is from heaven. The basic difference between good and evil wisdom is that one is selfish and the other is selfless. This pattern is strewn throughout the Bible, and it is re-enforced once again in this portion of scripture. Our sinful nature pursues selfish ambition and envies what we don’t have. But Godly wisdom focuses itself on the needs of others in a way that is humble and pure. You might have realized that these are fruits of the spirit, and you may be wondering what they have to do with wisdom. Well, Proverbs reminds us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. When we understand how to operate using the fruits of the spirit as God instructs, we are wise because we do so in obedience to the Lord.
James tells us that there are two kinds of wisdom; selfish wisdom that comes from the devil and selfless wisdom that comes from heaven. I encourage you to pursue and seek the latter. It plays itself out by being pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. When we pursue these attributes, we are being wise because by aligning ourselves with the Holy Spirit, we will ultimately reap what is good.