Genuine wisdom manifests itself in living. Wisdom is not the same as “knowledge,” with the second term more tied to “information” and “mastery of facts.” Wisdom transcends knowledge as worship transcends music.
Notice how James shows the importance of living for wisdom, and I quote from James 3:13: “Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
Wisdom is shown in “excellence of conduct” (my translation) in the active life of “good deeds.” Sometimes the emphasis on “faith” by Protestants has killed “good works” — as if good works are bad. But for James, as there is no such thing as faith without works, so there is no such thing as wisdom without works. Wisdom without works is sterile knowledge; knowledge with good works manifests the very presence of God’s goodness in this world.
And James sets us up…
The good deeds-that-show-wisdom for James are all wrapped up in humility, which in the book of James emphasizes the absence of self-interest, the suppression of self-will, and the denial of self-empowerment.
In particular, it shows up in how we talk to one another — and a good word for it today is “civility.” The problem with teachers, as James is so prone to emphasize in 3:1-4:12, is self-aggrandizing power and the abuse of others with the tongue. The wise person suppresses the evil and makes way for what is good.
He learned this from his brother.