Wisdom and competence

Peace“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.” James 3:13 (NIV)

Chapter         (NIV)

Audio              (2:38)

James asks a very important question…who is wise and understanding among us? The topic of wisdom isn’t mentioned all that frequently anymore, especially outside of spiritual circles. Instead we talk of competence. When someone is good at something, they are recognized and praised.

When someone acts wisely, we rarely hear about it.

James actually gives us the reason for this…but that’s for later. James teaches that wisdom isn’t so much talked about as it is revealed by the actions and habits of a good life.

Wisdom is displayed more through actions than through words.

James further elaborates that a good life will consist of good deeds done in humility. They are done without drawing attention to either the person or the deeds themselves.

That’s why we don’t often hear about wisdom. Wisdom that proclaims itself is not true wisdom. It is pride and self-centeredness pretending to be wisdom.

Finally, James tells us the humility that characterizes these deeds is actually derived from wisdom. In other words, humility grows out of wisdom.

One who is proud is not wise.

One who is wise is not proud.

In the medical profession we are often drawn to competence without also valuing wisdom. We can even prioritize competence over cultivating wisdom.

Fortunately, there is no need to sacrifice one for the other.

Both competence and wisdom in medicine are important.

However, while it is certainly possible for someone to be both wise and competent, there are many distinctions between the two.

Wisdom is hidden… competence is comfortable being flashy.

Wisdom is quiet…competence doesn’t mind being heard.

Wisdom is self-effacing…competence readily accepts attention.

Wisdom is humble…competence often leads to pride.

Wisdom is about living right…competence is about doing right.

Wisdom always implies competence…but competence can exist without wisdom.

It’s easier to be competent than it is to be wise.

I’ll be spending some time examining what the Scripture has to say about wisdom and how it relates to achieving shalom in our lives.

Prayer: Lord, help me from confusing competence with wisdom and bring the light of Your Spirit into the areas of my life where wisdom is needed.

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