by Cheri Cowell
Have you ever bought something from one of those television ads that promote their product as a “genuine original?” Often they offer a certificate of authenticity to substantiate their claim, but even with that, how can you tell you’re getting a genuine original? There’s a whole industry created to peddle fake “genuine originals” the police call knock-offs. These fakes cost the consumer millions in fraudulent sales, and an untold amount of public trust.
James, Jesus’ brother, was concerned about the same thing around 49A.D. when he wrote to the first century Jewish Christians. There were a lot of people claiming to be genuine Christians with godly wisdom. How were they to tell the fake from the genuine thing? How can you and I tell?
James explains to us how to spot a fake. First, he says that true wisdom from God is accompanied by a degree of humility. No humility? Probably fake. Furthermore, wisdom comes from a depth of character within the wise person, so we can spot a fake if there is inconsistency with character. Next, bitterness and envy are not bedfellows with the wise. Any sign of these, it is time to run. Finally, he says foolishness leads to disorder of spirit, while true wisdom leads to peace. Said another way, God’s wisdom is identified by its purity of spirit—it is peace and mercy, and it is considerate and submissive toward others. If you see selfishness, this is the opposite of the wise.
Of course, no person is always wise, but if you are seeking to determine if the wisdom shared by someone is coming from God, it is wise to look at the whole person. Wisdom is not skin deep, it is heart deep.
When it comes to some high-profile Christians, it seems everyone is a marketer these days. Their pitches are slick, but the wise Christian learns how to discern the fake from the genuine thing–not so we can point fingers–but so we can be wise in whom we follow. The good news is, God’s wisdom is so easily identifiable once you know what to look for.
Ask God to help you spot the difference between true wisdom and the knock-offs by looking for those who are pure of spirit, peace-filled, mercy-giving, considerate, and submissive. Praise God for His genuine wisdom in guiding you today
“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. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:13-18 NIV).
About the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of 365 Devotions for Peace and Living the Story. Learn more about Cheri at http://www.CheriCowell.com
Join the conversation: How do you tend to spot “fake”?