“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth” (James 3:13-14)

First let’s define some of the words used in these two verses:

  • Wise and understanding = the knowledge of an expert
  • Good Conduct = manner of life, a persons walk on their journey of life, the emphasis here is on the way a person lives over time as opposed to isolated events
  • Works = James generally uses the word works to describe the result of a changed life by Jesus. the Apostle Paul normally uses the term to describe the futile efforts of man to obtain favor with God. Knowing how these two authors use this word and the words “faith” and “justified” help to clear up the perceived disagreement between the two. No true disagreement exists.
  • Meekness = We just really don’t have a good English word for the Greek word “prautes”. The best we can do is meekness, but meekness generally conveys the idea of weakness, which is no where to be found in the Greek word. Jesus in Matthew 11 describes Himself as meek, yet we know He made the blind see, the lame walk, and raised people from the dead. Meekness is not a lack of power, but rather the proper use of power in a way that is submissive to the desires of God and for the benefit of our neighbors.
  • Wisdom = forming the best plans and using the best means of execution for God’s glory and the benefit of our neighbors.
  • Bitter Envy = desiring the position, power, praise, or possessions of another individual
  • Self-Seeking = desiring to be the one who ultimately benefits from the actions done rather than God and our neighbors

Now that we have defined the terms, I encourage you to read the verse again several times and to meditate on its meaning and what in your life you would allow God to change for you to be more like Jesus. Let me also plainly state that the goal of a good way of life without self-seeking cannot be obtained by human means. You must be changed by Jesus by repenting of your sins and putting your faith in Him – that He died for your sins and rose again. You must then walk humbly before God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Any other attempt to obtain the reality of meekness with wisdom will only result in pride and ultimately be self-defeating.