Wisdom-Filled Lives (James 3:17–18) - Radical

Wisdom-Filled Lives (James 3:17–18)

But the wisdom from above is first pure and peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere, and a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
– James 3:17–18

Wow, what a description of wisdom. From above. Wisdom from God. This whole passage, James 3:13–18 is so powerful, this contrast in worldly wisdom and godly wisdom. And the Bible describes wisdom from God, wisdom from above in ways that I think challenge the way we often think about wisdom.

James 3:17–18 teaches us the attributes of divine wisdom.

I think, when we consider wisdom, we think about someone who knows the right thing to do in a certain situation, which there’s a sense in which that’s true, but it’s not just about knowing the right thing to do, it’s about doing the right thing. We wouldn’t say someone’s wise just because they know the right thing to do and they do the opposite. We would say that person is foolish.

So, someone who does the right thing. And what is right? Well, what’s right, according to James 3:17 is that which is pure, heasable, gentle. I think about these words, pure before God and before others. Peaceable, promoting peace with God and promoting peace between others. Gentle, open to reason. The word there literally means to be willing to yield to others, be willing to understand others, obviously not in a way that we compromise our convictions or that which is clear in God’s word, but we listen and we’re even open to submitting to others even when some of our differences might remain. Then wisdom is full of mercy and good fruits. Do we often think about wisdom in terms of being merciful, and then wisdom is impartial? Doesn’t show favoritism? It’s what James talked about in chapter two. And it’s sincere, it’s authentic, it’s real.

James 3:17–18 teaches us the benefits that accompany heavenly wisdom.

And verse 18 says, “This kind of wisdom leads to a harvest of righteousness.” And don’t you want that to be the fruit of your life? A harvest of righteousness and peace? So let’s just pray this verse over our lives right now. God, we pray for wisdom from above, from you. I pray for purity, I pray that you would make us peaceable. You would help us to grow in gentleness and to show gentleness. That you would help us to be open to reason, to be humble listeners who understand others and even yield to others.

God, we pray that you would make us full of mercy and good fruits. God, help us to be merciful today. Help us to be impartial. Lord, help us not to show favoritism, oh God, and we pray that you’d help us to be sincere. Help us to be authentic, true, faithful to you, to others. And God, we pray that the fruit of our lives would be our harvest of righteousness that’s sown in peace.

This verse encourages us to grow in righteousness through wisdom

We pray that you would help us to make peace. We pray this over our lives, over our relationships, over our family relationships. God, we pray for wisdom and our family relationships. We pray for wisdom in our friendships. God, we pray for wisdom in our relationships with coworkers or classmates. God, we pray for wisdom in our churches. We pray that our churches remarked by purity and peace and gentleness and openness to reason and mercy and good fruit and impartiality and sincerity.

God, may it be so in your church. We pray, these verses, James 3:17–18 over our lives, our families, our friendships, all our relationships, your church, knowing Lord Jesus, that you are ultimately the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1 tells us, Colossians 2, that all the treasures of divine wisdom are hidden in you. Jesus, we pray that you would produce this wisdom in us.

Prayer for the Gabri People

And God, we pray for the spread of this wisdom around the world in you. We pray for the Gabri people today of Iran. 16,000 strong in this very small people group. God, we pray for the spread of the gospel to the Gabri people of Iran, that they would be reached with your wisdom in Jesus, the wisdom of the cross, the truth of your life and death and resurrection from the grave, your ascension on high as Savior and Lord over all.

Oh God, please bring the Gabri of Iran to know you and your wisdom in Jesus. God, we pray you and help us to show your wisdom in our lives today, according to your word in James 3:17–18. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!