James 3:17 Wisdom Scripture Art

~ Today’s Scripture Art and Book Review were designed to help you write Biblical decision making on your heart. ~

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Think back to your last bad decision. 

Hopefully way back. Right?

Notice I’m assuming that you did indeed make a bad decision. We all do. 

But since we are life-long learners, let’s go ahead and ask the question …

How can we improve our decision making?

Do we need more wisdom? More information? 

I just finished Jen Wilkin’s book In His Image and I am intrigued by her take on decision making. She always sparks deep thinking! 

Side Note: See my other Jen Wilkin book review

Her book has a beautiful cover and is a fairly quick read that explores 10 characteristics of God.

I am going to share one fascinating point from chapter 10, but I highly recommend getting this book and referring to all 10 chapters often.


Because Jen boldly wants you to “never have to question what God’s will is for you again. Or, at least not the way you may have asked it in the past.” 

Sound good?

I can attest that her hope for this book was successful.

Book Review of In His Image by Jen Wilkin

Next time you’re trying to discern God’s will while making a tough decision, pull out your copy of In His Image and you’ll be reminded that God’s will doesn’t need discovering. It’s right in plain sight! 

God doesn’t hide His will from His children.

Yes, the path is narrow. But it’s not hidden.

So if God’s will doesn’t need discovering, why don’t we always know what to do?

Just to clarify before moving on, she does make sure to state that it’s not bad to ask God what you should do next. That’s not what she’s saying. In fact, she says that asking God shows a commendable desire to honor God in your everyday decisions. 

But she feels that asking God specifically what to do doesn’t exactly reflect the heart of what it means to follow God’s will. 

Wait. It doesn’t?

Biblical Decision Making - James 3:17 tells us what wisdom looks like.
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Jen clarifies that her concern is that we might make our relationship with God primarily a means toward better decision making.

If we focus on our actions without addressing our hearts, we may end up merely as better behaved lovers of self. 

Side Note: You know how I feel about addressing our hearts!

Jen remarks, “Think about it. What good is it for me to choose the right job if I’m still consumed with selfishness? What good is it for me to choose the right home or spouse if I’m still eaten up with covetousness? What does it profit me to make the right choice if I’m still the wrong person? The hope of the gospel in our sanctification is not simply that we would make better choices, but that we would become better people.” 

The back cover says it all: Sometimes we ask What is God’s will for my life? when we should really be asking …

Who should I be? 

Spoiler alert – The Bible has an answer … Be like Jesus. 

Romans 8:29 (ESV): For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

James 3:17 Scripture Art - Wisdom and Biblical Decision Making

So what’s God’s will for your life?

Put simply, that you would be like Christ.

Yes. And that will automatically help with decisions about good and evil. 

But practically speaking, can we ask God to help us pick between two good choices?

Well, of course we can ask God anything!

But let’s be aware of what we are asking.

Jen explains that when we pray for wisdom in a certain decision, we’re really asking for knowledge. 

We probably confuse the two. 

She says, “Often, we pray for wisdom when, in fact, we are seeking knowledge. Tell me what to do, Lord. Tell me which commitment to accept, what words to say, where to live, and who to work for. We may even remind God that in James He told us we would receive wisdom if we asked. But we are not asking for understanding; we are asking for information. And in doing so, we betray our unwillingness to move from immaturity to maturity as a disciple.”

She doesn’t sugarcoat. {grin}

I have to admit that I bristled when I read that last quote, but then she proceeded to give all kinds of biblical proof starting with the young King Solomon in 1 Kings 3.

1 Kings 3:23-27 (ESV): Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; and the other says, ‘No; but your son is dead, and my son is the living one.’” And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.”

Jen notes, “Having granted Solomon an internal framework for making decisions, Solomon does not ask for knowledge in the moment of the decision point. He uses the knowledge he has to make the best decision he can. Wisdom is the mark of spiritual maturity.” 

Wisdom is closely related to knowledge, but distinct from it.

Knowledge is possessing the facts. Wisdom is the ability to achieve the best ends with the facts. 

James 3:17 Bible Verse Calligraphy

Jen also pointed out this verse … 

Hebrews 5:12-14 (ESV): For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

She goes on to say, “The spiritually mature develop the ability to discern what is good and what is evil. They move beyond being told truths to internalizing them so they perceive the world differently.” 

Romans 12:2 (NIV):Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Jen Wilkin's Women of the Word is not just a Bible study how-to book - although it's that too! It will most likely change the way you think about Bible study. I had been looking backwards at two pre-conceived notions in particular.

Solomon, unfortunately, gave in to the folly of the world later in life. His story teaches us that there is no such thing as “once wise, always wise” for anyone but God. We must remain constantly aware of our need for a sustaining supply of wisdom.

How do we fill our constant need for wisdom? 

Jen suggests we declare as Solomon did: “Bring me a sword.”

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV): For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The Bible points to the example of Christ, who became for us wisdom from God.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (ESV): And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

God gives us wisdom through Christ Jesus.

Jesus became wisdom and we get the privilege of becoming like Him.

James 3:17 (NASB): But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy.

James also spells out the how

It’s easy!

James 1:5 (ESV): If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

We can ask for wisdom, He will give it, and we will mature and become more like Christ, which will in turn help us make decisions that glorify God.

It’s a small shift in thinking, but an important one! Let’s be more concerned with who we are becoming and the decision-making will follow suit.

I will close with this quote inside the front cover from J. D. Greear which sums it up nicely: “Jen Wilkin shows us how the best answers to what we should do are found in what we become, and what we become is determined by our view of God.”

*My prayer for you is … that this blog will inspire you to open your Bible every single day to seek God’s face and write His Word on your heart – because HE’S the key to lasting heart change!
Scripture Art - James 3:17

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