Theme: As followers of Jesus we need the wisdom that comes from God rather than the wisdom of man.
Wisdom has been defined as: “seeing the relationship between the problems of life and the principles of Scripture that have been violated.” We are living in a day of Biblical illiteracy. As a result few individuals know the Scriptures well enough to recognize what principles of Scripture are being violated. Even those who may be aware of these principles are often guilty of ignoring them and failing to see how they relate to the problems of life. We live in a day when men and women are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Oliver Greene, an evangelist says: “True wisdom gauges or measures the true nature and value of a thing or things and their relationship to one another, thereby exercising spiritual insight and understanding. This is the highest kind of wisdom, and comes from God.” In an effort to proclaim the unadulterated Word of God, I intend to call your attention today to Godly Wisdom. As followers of Jesus we need the wisdom that comes from God rather than the wisdom of man. Turn with me to James 3:13-18 (read). James is a practical book and if we heed its message we will live lives that are pleasing to God and profitable to others. We will be able to stand for the truth in the midst of a world that is on a toboggan slide into error. We see in this passage of Scripture:
I. The Description Of Wisdom
II. The Distortion Of Wisdom
III. The Demonstration Of Wisdom
Let’s consider these points together.
I. The Description Of Wisdom- Listen again to verses 17-18 “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James is contrasting godly wisdom with human wisdom. He gives us a description of the wisdom that comes from God. He tells us that it is pure. In other words it is free of all filthiness and low, worldly aims. It is free of mixed motives and is other directed rather than self-centered. It is honoring to God because it grows out of a holy life. It is also peaceable. It doesn’t create conflict but looks for ways to resolve strife. It is the kind of wisdom that accepts the challenge of Paul in Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Conflict hinders progress when it is unresolved. The wisdom of God is also gentle. It doesn’t contend for its rights but is willing to suffer being wronged and does so patiently. It doesn’t retaliate or reply to false charges with bitter words. It is firm yet kind. It realizes that “a soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” (Prov. 15:1) The wisdom from above is easy to be entreated. It refuses to be obstinate but always remains open to the truth. It maintains an open mind and is willing to be corrected. As followers of Christ we must be rooted in our convictions yet willing to remain open to new truth. We must know what we believe and still be willing to be convinced if we have deviated from the truth. The wisdom we are talking about is full of mercy and good fruits. It is compassionate and does good deeds even to those who may do it evil. It seeks to turn an enemy into a friend by persisting in doing good regardless of what others might do. It follows the advice of Paul in Romans 12:19-21 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” God’s wisdom is free from partiality. It doesn’t make hasty judgments about others. It gets beyond feelings to facts. It is free from prejudice and accepts others who may different from themselves. It is also free from hypocrisy. It is sincere and honest. It doesn’t operate with double standards but practices what it preaches. Godly wisdom enables our profession and conduct to coincide. It helps our walk to match our talk. We will not be like the Youth Pastor that I read about recently who started by frequenting a strip club near his church and for eighteen years juggled his secret life of prostitutes, massage parlors and strip clubs while his ministry seemed to be succeeding. He eventually began stealing from his church to cover the cost of his growing addiction. He was a Pharisee who looked good on the outside but inside was full of “dead men’s bones”. When godly wisdom is in operation conflicts cease and those who are working for peace within the body of Christ will reap the fruit of righteousness. This is fruit that lasts. Just because God uses a person doesn’t mean that he approves of their behavior. The Bible is filled with examples of God using people whose lives were out of order, yet when our life is in order we will see growth in ourselves and others. Those who are alienated from God will be reconciled with Him and brought into fellowship with other believers. The Church will become a healthy growing assembly of committed believers where God will add to their numbers daily those who are being saved. What will hinder this from taking place? This leads us to:
II. The Distortion Of Wisdom- Notice verses 14-16 “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Satan has a way of coming up with a counterfeit for what God has provided. James shows us the opposite of Godly Wisdom and it is not a pretty picture. This wisdom promotes bitter envying and strife. It fosters competition in the body of Christ. It stirs up conflict by getting people to compare themselves with others. It is boastful and proud and looks down on others. It starts in the heart and then becomes manifested in the life. It is the wisdom of this world and is opposed to God. It will one day come to an end. Paul rejected the wisdom of this world and ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit. He says in I Cor. 2:1-14 (read). This earthly wisdom is also sensual. It appeals to the lusts of the flesh. It leads to sensual sins like pornography, prostitution and substance abuse. It promotes pride and self-gratification. It is therefore from the devil and his demons. It was the sin of pride that led to the downfall of Satan and his fallen angels. This wisdom leads to confusion and every evil work. Whenever there is confusion and evil practices, you can be sure that the devil is behind it He is the one who distorts Godly Wisdom with his counterfeit. As long as one settles for this imitation he will miss out on the wisdom that God intends for His children and will be used to kindle strife and division in all of his relationships. This wisdom is to be rejected and replaced with the wisdom that God gives to all who ask Him for it. Remember what we read in James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” God delights in providing wisdom to those who are humble enough to admit that they need it. This leads us to consider:
III. The Demonstration Of Wisdom- Verse 13 says: “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” Wisdom is not just evident in one’s words but is also seen in one’s actions. Instead of making one proud it humbles him and makes him meek. He realizes that wisdom is a gift that has been bestowed upon him by God and is not his natural ability. Dr. O. P. Eaches says: “The ‘wise’ has reference to the moral element of wisdom, the ‘understanding’ to the intellectual. Wisdom is more than knowledge or piety. It is the happy combination of knowledge and piety under the control of right judgment.” James points out that one who is truly wise possess a store of the Biblical Knowledge, he is a student of the Word of God and is able to put it into practice in his life. Dr. Jay Adams says: “In order to demonstrate true intelligence and biblical wisdom, one must do so through his good behavior. Like faith that can only be discerned through works, so too God’s wisdom manifests itself through wise behavior. Wise behavior is behavior that is in accordance with God’s will as it is expressed in God’s word. And these are works done is wise meekness. It is not only the ability to discern and follow the principles of the Bible that constitutes godly intelligence and wise behavior, but also the performance of these works in meekness. And it is works that are the outgrowth of a lifestyle. The word for behavior is anastrophe. It means habitual behavior, not behavior done only once in a while, or on certain occasions, but behavior that characterizes one.” God wants to change the way that you live daily. He wants you to live a life that is characterized by meekness and wisdom. G. Coleman Luck says: “We should never confuse meekness with weakness. The words sound alike, but are quite different. True meekness should ever characterize those who have true wisdom- let us do that which is good and right, but do it with modesty, with gentleness, with courtesy, with patience, with mildness, with godly moderation.” With God’s help we can make significant changes in our lives that will make an impact upon the lives of others.
As followers of Jesus we need the wisdom that comes from God rather than the wisdom of man. James has given us the description, the distortion and the demonstration of wisdom. If you are lacking Godly Wisdom then ask God to give it to you and you will not be disappointed. He will answer your prayer and you will live a life that is pleasing to Him and profitable to others.