The Proof of Our Pudding
It was Miguel de Cervantes who said that, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” (Don Quixote). Without being able to ask Cervantes to define exactly what he meant by “proof,” if we submit his term to the standards of jurisprudence we find it means “the strongest form of evidence.” In other words, there is “evidence” and then there is “proof.” Evidence would be the ingredients that went into the pudding, the experience of the chef, and the history of the recipe. On the basis of such evidence, one might conclude the pudding was good. But that is still not proof. Proof is the highest form of evidence entertained by a court of law, evidence so compelling that it leaves no doubt as to the outcome of the case. “Aha!” Cervantes might say, “That is why the proof is in the eating!” And he would be right.
James, living fifteen centuries before the famous Spanish writer, would have been underwhelmed with the latter’s proposition. He had already said as much in his letter to the dispersed Jewish Christians who were having a difficult time living out their faith. James’ message was this: It does little good for you to talk about your wisdom and understanding—that is elementary evidence at best. What we need is proof!—proof that you are wise, proof that your faith is genuine, proof that you are willing to obey heavenly responsibilities while living under harassing rulers. And what is the proof? It is found in the living of one’s life.
Earthly “wisdom,” James goes on, manifests devilish skills and mannerisms. When we see envy, selfish ambition, disorder, and evil practices, there’s the proof we’re looking for. That kind of wisdom is not from God. But when we see pure, peaceable, considerate, submissive, merciful, impartial, and sincere people—people who have God’s ways hanging off them like fruit on a tree—there we have proof of true wisdom.
To know the source of our living skills (our wisdom), we need only taste the fruit we are bearing—or better yet, ask a spouse or friend to taste it. Their response will be the undeniable proof about our pudding.
God’s Promise to You: “My wisdom in you will prove that you know me.”