July 8: Honor, Credit, and Godly Wisdom
1 Samuel 15:1–35; James 3:13–18; Psalm 119:121–136
We’re primed to seek validation. Earning “likes” on our social media outlets gives us a sense of self-worth. Getting kudos for a good idea at work makes us feel important. When this is how we derive our self-worth, the opposite will also be true: Being overlooked can crush us, making us angry and jealous if others have stolen the limelight.
If we’re not careful, we can easily become ruled by our need for validation. James calls this mindset and behavior “earthly,” “unspiritual,” and even “demonic” (Jas 3:15). When we are guided by it, chaos reigns: “For where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice” (Jas 3:16).
We may be aware of how often we are tempted to follow our earthly responses, and we might try to practice restraint. We try to filter the forces at work inside us, but this won’t solve the heart of the problem, as James shows us. He contrasts human ambition with godly wisdom, which “comes from above” (Jas 3:15). He lists the virtues that display godly wisdom: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, obedient, full of mercy and good fruits, nonjudgmental, without hypocrisy” (Jas 3:17).
We can’t attain these virtues on our own. When we’re tempted to follow our gut response, to protect and promote our own image, we have to examine our hearts and confess our earthly desires to God. Then, we should seek the wisdom from above—the wisdom found in Jesus. Only He can make us new, and His Spirit can enable us to intentionally follow Him and seek godly wisdom.
How are you seeking and praying for godly wisdom?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- Afterward Samuel said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee King over his people, over Israel: now therefore obey the voice of the words of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember what Amalek did to Israel, how they laid wait for them in the way, as they came up from Egypt. Now therefore go, and smite Amalek, and destroy ye all that pertaineth unto them, and have no compassion on them, but slay both man and woman, both infant and suckling, both ox, and sheep, both camel, and ass. And Saul assembled the people, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and set watch at the river. And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, and get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye showed mercy to all the children of Israel, when they came up from Egypt, and the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. So Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah, as thou comest to Shur, that is before Egypt, And took Agag the King of the Amalekites alive, and destroyed them; but everything that was vile and nought worth, that they destroyed. Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have made Saul King; for he is turned from me, and hath not performed my commandments. And Samuel was moved, and cried unto the Lord all night. And when Samuel arose early to meet Saul in the morning, one told Samuel, saying, Saul is gone to Carmel; and behold, he hath made him there a place, from whence he returned, and departed,a nd is gone down to Gilgal. Then Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said unto him. Blessed be thou of the Lord, I have fulfilled the commandment of the Lord. But Samuel said, What meaneth then the bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul answered, They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, to sacrifice them unto the Lord thy God, and the remnant have we destroyed. Again Samuel said to Saul, Let me tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. Then Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel? for the Lord anointed thee King over Israel. And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go, and destroy those sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them, until thou destroy them. Now wherefore hast thou not obeyed the voice of the Lord, but hast turned to the prey, and hast done wickedly in the sight of the Lord? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep, and oxen, and the chiefest of these things which should have been destroyed, to offer unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifice, as when the voice of the Lord is obeyed? behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and transgression is wickedness and idolatry. Because thou hast cast away the word of the Lord, therefore he hath cast away thee from being king. Then Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the Commandment of the Lord, and thy words, because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore I pray thee, take away my sin, and turn again unto me, that I may worship the Lord. But Sauel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast cast away the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath cast aawy thee, that thou shalt not be King over Israel. And as Samuel turned himself to go away, he caught the lap of the coat, and it rent. Then Samuel said unto him, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to thy neighbor, that is better than thou. For indeed the strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man that he should repent. Then he said, I have sinned: but honor me, I pray thee, before the Dlders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that i may worship the Lord thy God. Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites and Agag came unto him pleasantly, and Agag said, Truly the bitterness of death is passed. And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among other women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal. So Samuel departed to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: but Samuel mourned for Saul, and the Lord repented that he made Saul King over Israel. 1 Samuel 15:1–35
- Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show by good conversation his works in meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter enviying and strife in your hearts, rejoice not, neither be liars against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is sedition, and all manner of evil works. But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, and withotu hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, of them that make peace. James 3:13–18
- I have executed judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressor. Answer for thy servant in that whic his good, and let not the proud oppress me. Mine eyes have failed n writing for thy salvation, and for thy just promise. Deal with thy servant according to thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes. I am thy servant: grant me therefore understanding, that I may know thy testimonies. It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have destroyed thy Law. Therefore love I thy commandments above gold, yea, above most fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts most just, and hate all false ways. Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance into thy words showeth light, and giveth understanding to the simple. I opened my mouth, and panted, because I loved thy commanemtns. Look upon me and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy Name. Direct my steps in thy word, and let none iniquity have dominion over me. Deliver me from the oppression of men, and I will keep thy precepts. Show the light of thy countenance upon thy servant, and teach me thy statute. Mine eyes gush out with rivers of water, because they keep not thy Law. Psalm 119:121–136