In the same way, we can recognize men by their speech. If a man’s speech is evil and bitter, his heart will also be evil and bitter. An evil person may fool us for a time by speaking sweet words, but we will not be fooled for long; soon the evil in his heart will be manifest by evil words.
Let no one deceive himself: God will not accept the sweet prayers of someone who speaks evil of his brother. God knows such prayers are false. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar (1 John 4:20-21).
13 If we say we are wise and understanding, then let us show proof of it! If we say we have love, let us show it. If we say we have faith, let us show it. How can we show it? We can show it by our good life, by our deeds.
Our teaching, our preaching—whatever work we do—must be done in the humility that comes from wisdom. There are two kinds of wisdom: God’s wisdom (heavenly wisdom) and man’s wisdom (worldly wisdom). God’s wisdom always leads to humility. Man’s wisdom always leads to pride—that is, to bitter envy and selfish ambition (verse 14).
14 The person with worldly wisdom may boast that he does God’s work, but in fact he does only what is for his own benefit. Such a person should not boast about what he does for God. If he does so, it will be a lie; he will be denying the truth.
15 Just as we can recognize a spring by tasting its water, so we can recognize what kind of wisdom a man has by observing its fruit. The fruit ofheavenly wisdom is humility. The fruit of worldly or natural wisdom is envy and ambition. Worldly wisdom is of the devil—that is, of SATAN—who is the prince of this world (John 16:11).
16 What is the cause of division in the church and fighting among brothers? The main cause is envy and selfish ambition (verse 14). And this occurs not only among ordinary brothers in the church, but also among the leaders! Let each believer examine himself.
17 The wisdom that comes from heaven is God’s wisdom. We must ask God for this wisdom (James 1:5).
What is God’s wisdom like? How can we recognize it? First, it is pure, because God is pure. Our wisdom must be pure, or else it cannot lead to peace and other good fruit.
Second, God’s wisdom is peace loving. A wise man (one with God’s wisdom) does not cause strife. A wise man is quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). He always tries to do what leads to peace (Romans 14:19).
The wise man is considerate. He cares about others. He doesn’t speak hurtful words. Unwise men debate in a harsh manner; they are only interested in winning the argument. Such men may win the argument, but they lose their friends. The wise man does not act in this way.
The wise man is submissive; he is willing to remain in submission to others (Ephe-sians 5:21). The wise man does not try to control other people; rather, he respects their thoughts and desires.
The wise man is full of mercy. He does not judge others. He is always ready to forgive others. He never tries to take revenge.
The wise man is also full of good fruit—that is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). He is impartial; he does not take sides or show favoritism.
And finally, the wise man is sincere. He is worthy of trust. He never tries to deceive someone for his own gain. He always speaks the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Is our wisdom and our speech sincere? That is a deep question. Sometimes when we talk to each other our speech is not completely honest and open. We hide things. Our speech is devious, crooked, insincere. Our words are sweet, but our thoughts are not sweet! We don’t speak an outright lie, of course; we all know that is a sin. But we often keep back part of the truth in order to create a false impression—and that also is a sin.10 However, the wise man is always sincere; he always speaks with complete sincerity and honesty.
18 The peacemakers mentioned in this verse are those who are wise, those who have God’s wisdom. They sow seeds of righteousness and they reap a harvest of righteousness (see Galatians 6:7). Peacemakers have learned to control their tongue.