God Is Not Judge Judy
by Kelly Givens, Managing Editor
“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
Last month I found myself in a situation that needed a good dose of wisdom. I had to make a decision and felt unsure what course of action was best, so over those next few days I prayed for wisdom on what I should do. I also looked for verses in the Bible that talk about wisdom, and was surprised by what I found.
When I think of wisdom, usually the first thing that pops in my head is King Solomon and that poor baby. You probably know the story- God had given Solomon an incredible amount of wisdom, so much so that people from all over were coming to him with their questions and disputes. In this recorded case, two prostitutes came before the king, both claiming to be the mother of the same baby boy, both insisting that the other had stolen the infant after the death of the other’s child. This was obviously before DNA testing, so what could be done? Well, Solomon had a sword brought to him and decided to settle things by cutting the baby in half! Now, that doesn’t seem like a very compassionate king! It sounds more like something Judge Judy would do.
Judge Judy doesn't want to hear your sob story. Her Honor gets right to the facts, lays down her decision and moves on to the next case, end of story. I realized I was asking God to be the” Judge Judy” of my life- I would present my problem and “ask for wisdom,” but what I really wanted was for God to give me a definite answer that didn’t leave any lingering questions. Obviously, God is not Judge Judy, and this is not the kind of wisdom he gives. So how should we think of wisdom? Let’s go back to Solomon- who really wasn’t like Judge Judy at all.
While it may have seemed bizarre that Solomon was going to cut a baby in half, the king had wisely discerned that the true mother would care more about the safety of the child than her possession of him. And so it was- the mother cried out for the boy’s life to be spared, and Solomon declared her the rightful parent. In doing this, he spared both the child and the women further pain. But this is more than Solomon just being cunning or smart. There’s compassion to this decision too- an essential part of wisdom.
When Solomon asked God for wisdom, God didn’t just fill his head with the right answer to every problem that would ever come up. No- he filled him with “wisdom” as James describes it- he filled him full of consideration, peacefulness, mercy, goodness, impartiality and sincerity. King Solomon wasn’t wise because he knew the law book forwards and backwards, or because he was particularly clever or a good problem solver. He was wise because his decisions flowed from a heart and mind focused on values that are essential to the Kingdom of God. He didn’t bother punishing the one woman for stealing a baby or stoning both women for being prostitutes (which the law would have demanded). His wisdom was compassionate, merciful, and just: it was true wisdom from above.
Intersecting Faith and Life: What problems in your life are you seeking wisdom in? Approach those problems in light of James 3:17 and trust that God will equip you with the wisdom you need for the challenges you face.