“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield…” (James 3:17).
Just as counterfeit wisdom had identifying characteristics (James 3:14-16), genuine wisdom—that which is from God—also has distinctive traits. An octave of distinguishing features of the wisdom from above are named by James. Consider the first four:
Pure. A hunger and thirst for righteousness is unpolluted by envy and selfish ambition. Therefore, a wise person has a healthy distrust of his own feelings and inclinations because of their possible impurities and partiality.
Peaceable. The best solution to a situation is the one which eliminates addresses an immediate problem and seeks to eliminate long-term hostility, resentment, and ill will. Resolving a problem permanently is far better than a flimsy temporary solution.
Gentle. Genuine wisdom seeks to be fair to all and not harsh towards others. Thoughtful consideration is given to both what should be said and left unsaid in addition to how it ought to be said.
Willing to yield. Wise people are not unapproachable, unreasonable, or unwilling to consider another point of view. Selfish people are ill-equipped to be wise.