Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
If we were in a classroom and I asked for a show of hands of who considered themselves wise and knowledgable, I am not sure how many would raise them.
Sure, most of us would probably think we should be raising our hands, and a few would be confident and do it.
For those that did raise their hands my follow up question would be to prove it. At this point the rest of you who breathe a sigh of relief that you kept your hands down and didn’t fall into the trap.
In this verse James, Jesus’ brother, poses the same question, but before any hands go up he tells you how you can prove it.
Who is wise – sophos – literally wise in its most general application – and understanding – epistémón – this is the only occurrence in the NT – intelligent or filled with knowledge – among you?
The proof of your wisdom and intelligence is in how you show it – deiknumi – again this is the only occurrence of this word in the NT – to show literally or figuratively.
James is clear that you show you wisdom and intelligence, not through debates or winning quizzes, by impressing others with your encyclopaedic knowledge on any topic they care to mention, but through living a ‘good life’ and your ‘deeds’.
A good – kalos – valuable or virtuous, fair, honest, worthy – life – anastrophé – conduct or behaviour.
By deeds done – ergon – an act, doing work or labour.
James declares if you have knowledge and understanding then there will be a physical ‘something’ which comes from that wisdom and knowledge and everyone can see it.
He had seen this in action through his brother.
At the age of twelve, Jesus had astonished the teachers in the Temple at his knowledge of the Torah. He continued to amaze and challenge those teachers and the Temple authorities during his ministry years.
Jesus was clear – knowledge and wisdom in the Torah was worthless if it was not displayed in actions.
It was taught that God was filled with mercy and compassion. Jesus proved it by ministering to the needs of the people through healing, feeding, emotional support, and allowing them to understand God better.
So use your wisdom and understanding living a good life with deeds done.