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James 3:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Who is a wise man - One truly religious; who, although he can neither bridle nor tame other men's tongues, can restrain his own.

And endued with knowledge - Και επιστημων· And qualified to teach others.

Let him show - Let him by a holy life and chaste conversation show, through meekness and gentleness, joined to his Divine information, that he is a Christian indeed; his works and his spirit proving that God is in him of a truth; and that, from the fullness of a holy heart, his feet walk, his hands work; and his tongue speaks. We may learn from this that genuine wisdom is ever accompanied with meekness and gentleness. Those proud, overbearing, and disdainful men, who pass for great scholars and eminent critics, may have learning, but they have not wisdom. Their learning implies their correct knowledge of the structure of language, and of composition in general; but wisdom they have none, nor any self-government. They are like the blind man who carried a lantern in daylight to keep others from jostling him in the street. That learning is not only little worth, but despicable, that does not teach a man to govern his own spirit, and to be humble in his conduct towards others.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? - This is spoken with reference to the work of public teaching; and the meaning of the apostle is, that if there were such persons among them, they should be selected for that office. The characteristics here stated as necessary qualifications, are wisdom and knowledge. Those, it would seem, on which reliance had been placed, were chiefly those which were connected with a ready elocution, or the mere faculty of speaking. The apostle had stated the dangers which would follow if reliance were placed on that alone, and he now says that something more is necessary, that the main qualifications for the office are wisdom and knowledge. No mere power of speaking, however eloquent it might be, was a sufficient qualification. The primary things to be sought in reference to that office were wisdom and knowledge, and they who were endowed with these things should be selected for public instructors.

Let him show out of a good conversation - From a correct and consistent life and deportment. On the meaning of the word “conversation,” see the notes at Philemon 1:27. The meaning here is, that there should be an upright life, and that this should be the basis in forming the judgment in appointing persons to fill stations of importance, and especially in the office of teaching in the church.

His works - His acts of uprightness and piety. He should be a man of a holy life.

With meekness of wisdom - With a wise and prudent gentleness of life; not in a noisy, arrogant, and boastful manner. True wisdom is always meek, mild, gentle; and that is the wisdom which is needful, if men would become public teachers. It is remarkable that the truly wise man is always characterized by a calm spirit, a mild and placid demeanor, and by a gentle, though firm, enunciation of his sentiments. A noisy, boisterous, and stormy declaimer we never select as a safe counsellor. He may accomplish much in his way by his bold eloquence of manner, but we do not put him in places where we need far-reaching thought, or where we expect the exercise of profound philosophical views. In an eminent degree, the ministry of the gospel should be characterized by a calm, gentle, and thoughtful wisdom - a wisdom which shines in all the actions of the life.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
These verses show the difference between men's pretending to be wise, and their being really so. He who thinks well, or he who talks well, is not wise in the sense of the Scripture, if he does not live and act well. True wisdom may be know by the meekness of the spirit and temper. Those who live in malice, envy, and contention, live in confusion; and are liable to be provoked and hurried to any evil work. Such wisdom comes not down from above, but springs up from earthly principles, acts on earthly motives, and is intent on serving earthly purposes. Those who are lifted up with such wisdom, described by the apostle James, is near to the Christian love, described by the apostle Paul; and both are so described that every man may fully prove the reality of his attainments in them. It has no disguise or deceit. It cannot fall in with those managements the world counts wise, which are crafty and guileful; but it is sincere, and open, and steady, and uniform, and consistent with itself. May the purity, peace, gentleness, teachableness, and mercy shown in all our actions, and the fruits of righteousness abounding in our lives, prove that God has bestowed upon us this excellent gift.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 544

I was referred to the following words of inspiration: “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” Men whom God has called to the work of saving souls will feel a burden for the people. Selfish interests will be swallowed up in their deep concern for the salvation of souls for whom Christ died. They will feel the force of the exhortation of Peter: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 2T 544.1

You are naturally stubborn. Jealousy and stubbornness are the natural fruits of selfishness. You have made some improvement; but I saw so much yet to be done, I saw so clearly the wretched influence of your selfish, unconsecrated life, that I fear you will never see just how hateful these traits of character are before God. I fear that you will not realize this sufficiently to put them away and become like your self-denying Redeemer, pure and unselfish, your life characterized by disinterested benevolence. Your influence and example are such as to cause some who love the truth and work of God, and who value our faith, to lose their spirit of self-sacrifice and their interest in the cause of present truth. Your selfish, covetous course begets the same spirit in them; and your disposition to grasp and advantage yourself, while professing to be a minister of righteousness, has closed the hearts of very many against giving of their means to advance the cause of truth. If ministers set the people an example of selfishness, that example will tell upon the cause of God with tenfold greater power than all their preaching can. 2T 545.1

God has been dishonored by your littleness. Your deal has savored of dishonesty. You have not made a clean track behind you, and until there is an entire transformation in your life, you will be a living curse to any church where you reside. You work for wages, and would not kindle a fire upon the altar of God, or shut the doors, for nought. When you set the people an example of self-sacrifice and of devotion to the cause of God, making the truth and the salvation of the soul primary, then your influence will bring others into the same position of self-sacrifice and devotion, to make the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness of Christ first. You feel authorized to advantage yourself from the cause. Your brethren, from the liberality of their souls, favor and help you in various ways, and you receive it as a matter of course, as your due. And if any are not perfectly free with you, and do not favor you, you are jealous, and do not scruple to let them understand that you are not appreciated, and that they are selfish. You frequently refer to others who have done thus and so by you, as examples that they should imitate. These who have especially favored you have gone beyond their duty. You have not earned their confidence or their liberalities. You have had no heavy burdens to bear in this cause, and you have cast on others many more burdens than you have lifted; yet you have been gaining in property, and obtaining the good things of this life, and you regard it all as your right. Though you have received your weekly wages, you have not always been satisfied. Notwithstanding the pay you received, you have been managing continually to advantage yourself. The cause of God has paid you, whether you had much or little to show for your labor. You have not earned the means you have received. 2T 545.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 175

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” My brethren and sisters, how are you employing the gift of speech? Have you learned so to control the tongue that it shall ever obey the dictates of an enlightened conscience and holy affections? Is your conversation free from levity, pride and malice, deceit and impurity? Are you without guile before God? Words exert a telling power. Satan will, if possible, keep the tongue active in his service. Of ourselves we cannot control the unruly member. Divine grace is our only hope. 5T 175.1

Those who are eagerly studying how they may secure the pre-eminence should study rather how they may gain that wisdom which is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” I have been shown that many ministers need to have these words imprinted on the tablets of the soul. He who has Christ formed within, the hope of glory, will “show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” 5T 175.2

Peter exhorts the believers: “Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” 5T 175.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 178

Your actions testify that you are strangers to Christ. “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” 2T 178.1

Here are enumerated the fruits which are marked evidences that one who has been walking in the vigor of life has met with a change—a change so marked as to be represented by death. From living, active life, to death! What a striking figure! None need be deceived here. If this transformation has not been experienced by you, rest not. Seek the Lord with all your hearts. Make this the all-important business of your lives. 2T 178.2

You have an account to render for the good you might have done during your life, had you been in the position in which God required you to be, and which He has made ample provision that you might occupy. But you have failed to glorify God upon the earth, and to save souls around you, because you did not avail yourselves of that grace and strength, wisdom and knowledge, which Christ has provided for you. You knew His will, but did it not. There will have to be a most manifest reformation in you both, or you will never hear from Jesus: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” 2T 179.1

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