Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wisdom vs. Knowledge

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

After reading through the book of Proverbs in the month of October, it was refreshing to read through the book of James a number of times this week. The five chapters present a faith that is lived in such a way that comes from a person who lives what they say they believe.

This is better understood the Greek word used in this passage. James had two Greek word he could chose from: the word gnosis or sophia. Gnosis is a word refering to special knowledge, and is the root from comes from which we get the word knowledge and the term use to describe the mystical ancient Greek philosophy known as Gnosticism. The word James chose was sopia, the same word that we get our English word sophisiticed. It impies applied knowlegde, and not just intellectual consent.

Our understanding of God's type of wisdom is enriched when we remember that James wrote from a Hebrew-Aramaic cultural background. He would have understood the Hebrew meaning of the word wisdom, which is best translated "know-how" versus knowledge. The wisdom God gives is applied knowledge; a faith that is lived out in each and every situation we face.

This basic understanding helps us to appreciate the highly practical nature of the five chapter book of the new testament. It helps us to understand that faith that is mere intellectual assent, is not faith at all. Faith must be worked out in the way we live, treat others, and the ways we seek to please God. If any of us lacks wisdom, or that power to live out that which we believe, he or she should ask God and He will give liberally to those who seek Him.

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