Wisdom isn’t just a series of sage sayings. It’s not always gained with gray hairs and it’s not only achieved the hard way—by making the wrong decision. It’s not even the same thing as knowledge.

Wisdom is “applied knowledge.” If knowledge is the invisible ideas in your head, then wisdom is the visible actions produced by putting that knowledge to work in your day to day life—with your kids, spouse, co-workers, and neighbors. You can’t just read more books to become wise. Wisdom is displayed by one’s deeds.

James agrees. Concerning wisdom he wrote,

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom…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 3:13, 17)

Let’s unpack those qualities to see what they look like:

1. Pure: Free from the world’s system of valuing others for what they can do for you

2. Peace-loving: Values peace even when it’s personally costly.

3. Considerate: Chooses not to remember or return mistreatment.

4. Submissive: Changes its mind when the evidence requires it.

5. Full of mercy and good fruit: Quick to bless others whether they deserve it or not.

6. Impartial: Uses God’s standards to judge value, even if it’s personally costly.

7. Sincere: Has no hidden motives.

Enacting wisdom isn’t just a good idea in particular situations. It actually displays and determines who we are and become. N.T. Wright, in his book “After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters,” argues that wise actions have a culminating effecting, stating, “Virtue is what happens when habitual choices have been wise.” Begin building your a character of virtue for tomorrow by making wise choices today.