We’ve been working on a study of godly wisdom, as described in James 3:17. Last week, we talked about how “the wisdom from above is first pure.” James goes on to say it is “then peaceful.”
In what way is wisdom peaceful? We might say that wisdom avoids strife, but that can’t be all there is to it since peace in the Bible goes far beyond lack of conflict. It’s a state of tranquility, harmony, and wholeness that comes from being in a relationship with God. And since God is the source of true wisdom, it’s not too much of a surprise that wisdom and peace are linked.
Paths of Wisdom
There are not many verses in the Bible directly talking about the link between wisdom and peace. Searching for those two words turns up a verse in 1 Kings 5:12 that says “Yahweh gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. There was peace between Hiram and Solomon.” Other verses talk about wise people who hold their peace, but that phrase means to keep silent rather than to have shalom (Job. 33:33; Prov. 11:12).
As usual when studying wisdom, the best place to find what we’re looking for is in Proverbs. This book of wisdom has several things to say about peace, and one of these passages is found in a lengthy discussion of wisdom.
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gets understanding. … Her ways are ways of pleasantness. All her paths are peace. (Prov. 3:13, 17, WEB)
With wisdom, “there is not only peace in the end, but peace in the way” (Matthew Henry’s commentary). To expand on the Hebrew words used here, all the pathways you can travel (H5410, nathiyb) with wisdom are complete, sound, whole, and peaceful (H7965, shalom). Peace is something that happens when you live with wisdom.
The Wise Make Peace
While Biblical peace goes beyond an absence of strife, it does include that sort of peace as well. Peaceful people don’t go around generating conflict. It is foolishness that stirs up strife, and that’s the opposite of wisdom.
But avoid foolish and uninformed controversies, because you know that they produce quarrels. And the slave of the Lord must not quarrel, but be kind toward everyone, skillful in teaching, tolerant, correcting those who are opposed with gentleness, seeing whether perhaps God may grant them repentance to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 2:23-25, WEB)
Wise people know how to make peace and they refuse to engage in behavior that breaks peace. In fact, this point is important enough that peace is what James returns to right after defining wisdom, saying, “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace among those who make peace” (James 3:18). The wise are peaceful and they are peacemakers. This is one of the fruits that comes from aligning with God’s righteousness.
The Peace of God
Wise, peaceful people align themselves with God and His ways. It is the peacemakers who are “called children of God” (Matt. 5:9). And when we trust God to handle everything in our lives, we get peace on the inside as well as peace on the outside.
In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7, WEB)
God’s peace is, like wisdom, a precious gift. It even stands out from and rises above gifts having to do with intellectual faculties, like understanding. It also acts as a guard on our hearts and minds, much like wisdom is said to preserve and keep us (Prov. 2:10-12; 4:5-8). When we align ourselves with God and ask Him for wisdom, peace comes along with it. As we grow in Godly wisdom, so we will also grow to have a peaceful outlook and a wise, peacemaking spirit.
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