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. (James 3:17)

WHEN I WAS A YOUNGSTER, I liked school and made good grades. Not all of my older brothers shared my enthusiasm for formal learning. When I was just a toddler, our family moved off the farm and into the city, so I grew up in the city, attending good schools. My older siblings had grown up on the farm. They went to school, but they also had the rich heritage and experience of farm life with all its practical, day-to-day management of life.

One day one of my older brothers became exasperated with what he interpreted as my stupidity regarding some practical, earthly situation. He frankly told me, “You may be smart in school, but you sure are dumb about life.” That didn’t do a great deal for my self-esteem, but his analysis was likely an accurate appraisal of my practical wisdom at that point in my life.

James says there are two kinds of wisdom: earthly and heavenly. The earthly kind of “wisdom” is actually devilish. It is more concerned with getting ahead of others and making oneself look good. The other wisdom—the heavenly variety—thinks about others, tries to treat them fairly, and places a high value on living in peace and righteousness. Rather than trying to outshine the other person, it tries to please God and encourage others.

Find someone to bless and encourage today, as you sow peace and mercy.

Ron McClung works at his denomination’s world headquarters and lives in Fishers, Indiana, with his wife, Carol. They have two sons and nine grandchildren.