God's Wisdom

How to Recognize God’s Wisdom

Brooke McGlothlinBy Brooke McGlothlin8 Minutes

An excerpt taken from Everyday Prayers for Peace: A 30-Day Devotional & Reflective Journal for Women by Brooke McGlothlin.

Day 15
How to Recognize God’s Wisdom

Read James 3

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. —James 3:17

If l’ve asked God once for wisdom, I’ve asked a thousand times. More than once, I’ve wished for writing on the wall or an audible voice tell­ing me what to do. In my heart, I want to obey God. I want to go where He leads. I want to make decisions that reflect Him well to the people around me, and I want to do things His way. So, I ask for wisdom. But more than once, I’ve struggled to recognize God’s wisdom when it came, questioning if I was hearing correctly, or if what I heard was really God at all.

Am I listening to my own heart? The Bible says it’s “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). Or is this leaning I feel really the hand of God moving in my life:’ How do I know the difference:’ Will I always be able to know really and truly that how I’m feeling is a leading from God:’ Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Once, I worked for a man who had moved to Virginia from Michigan. Beforehand, he had applied for several jobs in the same field and received invitations from two different ministries, in two different states, at the same time, for exactly the same position. As he and his wife prayed about which job to take, they both felt a peace about both jobs. He actually told me that they believed the Lord had opened the door to either, and they were free to go wherever they wanted.

I have to tell you, friends, this blew my twenty-something mind wide open! I had literally never experienced anything like that before-and frankly, I didn’t like it. I don’t want God to give me options! I want Him to tell me what to do so I can do it.

You might have guessed that I have some control issues. Yes, it’s true. Disguised behind my sincere desire to do God’s will is an equally sincere desire to feel like I know where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. I don’t like unknowns.

Unfortunately, this desire of mine isn’t supported by Scripture. God told Abraham to leave home and family, and ‘go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not know­ing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise” (Hebrews 11:8-9; also see Genesis 12:1-5).

“Not knowing where he was going …”

I don’t know how you feel about those six words, but they scare me to death. I’m a very goal-oriented person. When I was in high school, my dad and I regularly had success conversations. We talked about my goals and the stepping stones I needed to walk across to reach them. When I was eighteen, I knew exactly where I was going and what needed to happen to get me there. Of course, life turned out differently than I expected, and there were surprises, twists, and turns along the way. Sometimes, it really is hard to know what’s God’s wisdom and what’s our own, but I’ve found that James 3:17 helps.

Something to Think About

Wiersbe wrote:

Worldly wisdom will produce worldly results; spiritual wisdom will give spiritual results. Worldly wisdom produces trouble … Wrong thinking produces wrong living. One reason the world is in such a mess is because men have refused to accept the wisdom of God.5

These days, as a forty-something mom of two teenage boys, I find myself asking less for wisdom about big life goals and more for wisdom in how to deal with what life is presenting our family with in the moment. I recognize that I don’t possess all the wisdom I need to be the kind of mom I want to be, and this knowledge of my lack of control makes me cry out to God for His wisdom. In truth, I need all the wisdom I can get. Thankfully, His Word says He’ll give us wisdom when we ask in faith. (See James 1:5-6.)

Scripture also helps me understand what to look for in order to recognize God’s wisdom. If what I feel God leading me to do or say is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere, I can be pretty sure it’s God. If it lacks these things, it’s probably not.

Next time you find yourself trying to discern if something is the wisdom of God or the wisdom of man, measure it against James 3:17. Align your thinking with God’s thinking and be assured that there will be good fruit, even if it doesn’t happen right away. Then, make a choice, walking boldly in the knowledge that as you have tried to honor Him, the outcome rests with the Lord.

Extra Verses for Study or Prayer

Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14


Father, thank You for being true and trustworthy and for giving us the tools we need to follow You. When we need wisdom, help us remember to ask You for it, and give us the desire and ability to measure all things against Your Word, our standard. In Jesus’s name, amen.

5. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe commentary873
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