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Wisdom from Others' Mistakes

Thursday - February 18th

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 3:13-18

Now these things happened to them as an example,

but they were written down for our instruction.

1 Corinthians 10:11 ESV



Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." We can gain wisdom by learning from the failures others have made. It is unwise to repeat the mistakes we have observed in other people.


One of the most Christlike men I have had the honor to know in my life was the late Warren Wiersbe. He was the consummate practical teacher of God's Word. In His commentary on James (Be Complete: Growing Up in Christ), Wiersbe wrote about biblical stories demonstrating earthly wisdom instead of heavenly wisdom. Here is his review of such stories:


"The Bible contains many examples of the folly of man's wisdom. The building of the Tower of Babel seemed like a wise enterprise, but it ended in failure and confusion (Gen. 11:1–9). It seemed wise for Abraham to go to Egypt when famine came to Canaan, but the results proved otherwise (Gen. 12:10–20). King Saul thought it was wise to put his own armor on young David for the lad's battle with Goliath, but God's plan was otherwise (1 Sam. 17:38ff.). The disciples thought it was wise to dismiss the great crowd and let them find their own food; but Jesus took a few loaves and fishes and fed the multitude. The Roman "experts" in Acts 27 thought it was wise to leave port and set sail for Rome, even though Paul disagreed, and the storm that followed proved that Paul's wisdom was better than their expert counsel. They lived to regret it, but they lived!"


One of the great gifts of the Scriptures is that they include the failures, sins, and foolishness of many of its characters. The Bible hides nothing from us. We should learn from their mistakes.


Just as we should learn from the unwise choices made by Abraham, Saul, and the Disciples, we should learn from the failures of those around us today who rely on man's wisdom over heavenly wisdom. Wiersbe continues in his commentary, "What is the origin of man's wisdom? 'This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish' (James 3:15). The believer has three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the Devil (Eph. 2:1–3). These enemies are suggested by the terms "earthly, sensual, devilish."


Human wisdom has been influenced by the world, the flesh, and the devil. As we understand the folly of earthly wisdom, we should not only avoid living by it, but we should seek God's wisdom for our lives.


Have you been settling for the wisdom that is not from above? Do you long to live by the wisdom God gives?


Determine today to seek the heavenly wisdom God offers you and learn from human wisdom's failures and folly. Understand the difference!


Human wisdom comes from earthly, sensual, demonic sources. Seek out God's wisdom instead!


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