“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” James 3:16 ESV

My grandfather was a carpenter. He always told me to “measure twice and cut once”, meaning make sure your measurements were correct, because recalculating is simple – but once the wood is cut, there is no going back. In this passage, James is speaking on how we are to measure ourselves to Gods wisdom before we cut into the world and other people’s lives.

How are we “measuring” our words and actions against God’s wisdom?

If we are seeking God’s wisdom, we are being righteous and measuring twice, if we are seeking our own, we are not even measuring; consequently, cutting wrong, thus wasting what the Lord gives and distorting his Truth. This is what James calls “disorder”.

“Disorder” and “every vile thing” is the behavior of what Proverbs calls the “fool”. All too often we make mistakes by arrogance, deceit, and irrational behavior, leading to destruction. We act foolishly and then we wonder why our craftsmanship is so poor, like the carpenter who failed to measure or mark his boards and wonders why his cuts don’t fit the project he’s working on.

Wisdom is measuring twice and cutting once, not cutting willy-nilly without thought or care. Wise people who listen to God’s wisdom are willing to learn.

Intelligent people can do really stupid things and lead lives of self-destruction, so wisdom is not about IQ or education – it’s about our willingness to learn, listen to God and obey his word.

Without real wisdom from God, we are not even measuring; we are just cutting and hoping that our boards fit. Without his wisdom, we cannot apply good judgment or lead effectual lives.

We can only develop as Christians when we realize that Christ is our tape measure, and that his wisdom is the only way to make good choices throughout our lives. We have to give up our pride and hand our wills over to God.

In so doing, we begin to understand what is important in life, and we experience true freedom. Through him, our lives can become a beautiful handcrafted piece of furniture instead of a amateurish project. By asking God for wisdom and giving him control over our lives, our work, our relationships and our lifestyles, we can reflect his careful craftsmanship, like my grandfather’s beautiful carpentry.

In what area of your life do you need to “measure twice and cut once”? How can we pray for you?

Read an earlier post in this series here.