Step Towards Transformation
James 3:13-18 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
So far, we have examined
As we continue to move forward through this series, this week we will examine another issue that is a problem area in the lives of most Christian people: How To Have Good Conduct With Wisdom.
James begins by pointing out that there is an unbreakable link between the kind of wisdom we possess and our conduct. He begins with a question: Who is wise and understanding among you?
James answers his question of challenge with an imperative – SHOW it! He’s NOT interested in a SAY-so Wisdom; he’s interested in a SHOW-so Wisdom. “Who is wise and understanding among you? SHOW it!”
Illustration: A small storeowner was being pressured to sell his store to the owners of a large department store who had bought every building on the block, except his. Frustrated by the man’s refusal to sell, they eventually opened their huge store on either side of the small one, with a big banner running from one side to the other, proclaiming in huge letters “GRAND OPENING.” Feeling equally frustrated, the small storeowner did finally outsmart the large department store. Below the grand opening sign, across the front of his small store, the man put up a small banner over his door: “MAIN ENTRANCE.”
We have at our disposal today more knowledge than at any time in history. … but there is still a shortage of wisdom, especially when it comes to the kind of choices we make in life.
Wisdom is about a right understanding and a right application of the way things really are.
Lets have some recap of what we learnt in Part 2 Of James Bible Study On Wisdom
Proverbs 1:7 Says: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of KNOWLEDGE; fools despise WISDOM and instruction[UNDERSTANDING].
Proverbs 9:10 Says: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of WISDOM, and KNOWLEDGE of the Holy One is UNDERSTANDING.
The Spirit of Understanding is God’s supernatural revelation-His secret insights to His Word. Understanding simply means a “putting together” or a comprehending or a grasping of His Word. The Spirit of God illuminates our hearts and gives us understanding of His Wisdom. In other words, He “turns on the lights for us.”
Note: Unless I immediately write down what the Lord is showing me, I won’t remember it. If it’s a supernatural revelation from God, then it’s not something that is registered in my own mind yet. I know myself-I know if I don’t write down the supernatural wisdom and understanding that God is giving me, I’ll lose it. I’ll bet it’s the same for you!
Illustration: Often when I’m in the shower, supernatural revelations and answers pop into my mind to questions that I’ve been asking God about for months. Again, so I won’t forget it, I’ll get out of the shower dripping wet, tippy-toe to where I can find a pencil and paper and write down what God has shown me. See, I know it’s not “me” that has “turned on the lights” at that moment, but God’s Spirit of Understanding.
Proverbs 4:7 says Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
Those with wisdom know which principle to apply in a given context.
NOTE: Understanding without wisdom can appear contradictory (Proverbs 26:4-5). Here the wise are given instruction on how to deal with fools. Instructing a fool is pointless because his speech is full of foolishness (Proverbs 15:2,14) and he does not want wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 18:2).
Whether we use the principle of verse 4 and deal with a fool by ignoring him, or obey verse 5 and reprove a fool depends on the situation. In matters of insignificance, it’s probably better to disregard him. In more important areas, such as when a fool denies the existence of God (Psalm 14:1), verse 5 tells us to respond to his foolishness with words of rebuke and instruction. To let a fool speak his nonsense without reproof encourages him to remain wise in his own eyes and possibly gives credibility to his folly in the eyes of others.
In short, in negligible issues we should just ignore fools, but in issues that matter, they must be dealt with so that credence will not be given to what they say.
Another example, the statement, “He who hesitates is lost,” is true, but so is the idea that “haste makes waste.” Which principle to use depends on the context. Those with wisdom know what actions to take next. They do the right thing in the given situation. In contrast, there are many who have great knowledge and understanding but who consistently do the wrong thing.
The Following Table May Help You Visualize The Difference Between These Three Terms:
|KNOWLEDGE समझ||UNDERSTANDING समझ||WISDOM बुद्धिमत्ता|
|Facts तथ्य/ हक़ीक़त||Meaning अर्थ||What to Do Next आगे क्या करना है|
|Information जानकारी||Principles सिद्धांत||Application इस्तेमाल करना|
|Memory याददाश्त||Reason कारण||Action क्रिया करना|
|Scholars विद्वान||Teachers शिक्षक||Practitioners करने वाला|
Proverbs 3:13 says Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding.”
Proverbs 16:16 says “To get wisdom is better than gold; to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” It is a matter of life and death.
This word wise in the Greek is “sophos”; it does not necessarily mean brilliant, high IQ or book smarts but rather the ability to apply with skill what one knows. Wisdom was an important thing to the Jewish people. They realized it was not enough to have knowledge; you had to also have wisdom to be able to use the knowledge correctly. All of us know people who are very intelligent, perhaps almost geniuses, and yet, seemingly are unable to carry out the simplest tasks of life. They can run a computer but cannot run their own life.
James is asking who is truly skilled in the art of living. Are you WISE?
James is not condemning wisdom or wise people. He is saying that wisdom is another way that faith becomes visible in the life of a believer. He says, “Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
Humble deeds – actions done without concern for or about yourself.
On a personal level, wisdom is your personal truth (as you know it and have experienced) applied to life.
Illustration: Once I took my friends son to celebrate his birthday along with the family to a restaurant. Outside the restaurant I parked my new motor bike. All flashy and glittery. My friends son could not resist touching this bike – as he would normally say “I am just looking, Dad”. As he approached this bike to “look”, he carelessly let his feet touch the bike’s hot exhaust. Immediately his feet received serious burn which to this day exists. Now for him “looking” does not include “touching” anymore. He has learned his lesson. That Boy’s younger sister has very similar “looking” habits and would unknowingly want to touch hot objects ..just to look. This boy now often stops her and warns her of the consequences, reminding her of what had happened to him – of course he has a burn mark to show off. This is personal wisdom, something he acquired. It’s a truth he has learned that he now applies to his life, and shares with others about their life.
In fact, there are a lot of situations in your life where you are not going to be able to open the Bible and get a direct answer and you are going to have to use discernment to make the right choice.
Note; Wisdom pushes us to understand how the world works and gives us the possibility of acting in ways that fit the pattern of the created order. Even those who have never gone to church or read the Bible have access to wisdom. Wisdom reclines in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known. –(Proverbs 14:33)
Note: But in acquiring wisdom, we must be sure that we seek wisdom that is true, for there is a false sort of wisdom that can lead to wrong. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” – Proverbs 16:25 (NIV)
Verses 14 to 16…James now starts to explain about two types of People or we can say Two types of Wisdom,
There is wisdom that originates from the world and there is wisdom that comes from God, Himself. We need to choose between the two. Worldly wisdom and heavenly wisdom, which path will you choose?
FALSE WISDOM (IT’S ROOTS, QUALITIES AND FRUITS)
Verse 14a says that worldly wisdom comes from two main roots, bitter envy and selfish ambition. Let’s look at these two roots more closely.
Illustration: There was an eagle who was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a sportsman with a bow and arrow and said to him, “I wish you would bring down that eagle up there.” The man said he would if he had some feathers for his arrow. So the jealous eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival bird because he was flying too high. The first eagle pulled out another feather, then another – until he had lost so many that he himself couldn’t fly. The archer took advantage of the situation, turned around, and killed the helpless bird.
Bitter envy makes us compare ourselves to others.
Illustration: A friend of mine stated this “I remember when microwave ovens first came out. I remember visiting our relatives. During that visit they showed us their new microwave oven. Well we returned home and a couple of weeks later, I came home from school one day and was shocked to see a new microwave oven in the kitchen. In fact, it was the model better than our relatives.”
Bitter envy makes us unthankful with what we have, and what we achieve.
Illustration: Kent Hughes tells the story of two men who lived in a certain city. One was envious and the other covetous. The ruler of the city sent for them and said he wanted to grant them one wish each—with this proviso, that the one who chose first would get exactly what he asked for, while the other man would get exactly twice what the first had asked for himself. The envious man was ordered to choose first, but immediately found himself in a dilemma. He wanted to choose something great for himself, but realized that if he did so the other would get twice as much. He thought for a while, and then asked that one of his eyes be put out. In the church this type of person could honestly pray, “Lord, I wish sooner your work was not done at all than done by someone better than I can do it.”
One author says this…”envy is the enemy of Christian living.” It is the exact opposite of grace.
Verse 14b James tells us that if we have these sins in our heart not to deny the truth, but to face the truth head on, and to deal with it through confession and repentance.
How many of you know by now that it does us no good to deny the truth? There are 2 types of people: those who are messed up and admit it, and those who are in denial.”
Why is it so important that we face the truth of our own sinfulness even when it’s uncomfortable? Jeremiah 6:14 You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!
– Having told us the ROOTS of this False Wisdom, James now outlines its QUALITIES…3 in fact.
Verse 15 says that worldly wisdom is earthly, unspiritual or sensual and from the devil.
The believer has three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. These enemies are suggested by the terms “earthly, sensual, devilish.”
There are two great lies that Satan circulates.
Worldly wisdom results in confusion and evil practice. The word translated “evil” here means, “worthless, of no account.”
Illustration: Remember the first Gulf War when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. He was envious of his rich neighbors. He wanted it so he sent in his armies. The world stepped in and forced him out. So what did he do as he left? He torched the oil fields. If he couldn’t have them, neither could anyone else.0
False wisdom originates from the flesh, the world and the devil. Ultimately, just as the unbridled tongue is employed by demonic powers to destroy the work of God [e.g. JAMES 3:6], so the false wisdom that is esteemed by this world is used by demonic powers to destroy God’s holy work.
Whenever we employ worldly wisdom, refusing to embrace godly wisdom, we become ignorant workers together with the evil one.
Illustration: Bobs friend John stopped by his house one day in his pickup truck. Bob noticed that a bracket was broken on the truck causing the tail pipe to shake against the frame. Having just obtained an electric welder which Bob loved to use at the slightest excuse, he offered to fix the bracket. John seemed grateful for this offer, and Bob set out to weld the broken piece. But the task was not easy. The position of the break, along with Bob’s inexperience and lack of skill, made the repair difficult. As Bob proceeded to blunder along, his friend John tried to look impressed and appreciative. After a while, Bob turned to John and asked, “Do you know how to weld?” When John admitted that he did know a little about welding, Bob suddenly recalled with considerable embarrassment that John had been a teacher of industrial arts. He not only knew how to weld; he had taught others to weld.
This story is a great illustration of what James is saying to us here. When we try to live apart from the true wisdom that God alone gives, we are like Bob was, trying to weld that tailpipe. All the while, our gracious God stands by and waits patiently for us to ask for Him for help. Remember the promise given to us in James 1:5?
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:5 (NIV)
Note: I am not saying that all worldly wisdom is wrong, but when it comes to Godly wisdom…it is a wisdom that has a heavenly focus. It is a wisdom that will help us live lives that are pleasing to God, lives that are going to be fruitful for the Kingdom and lives that project His goodness to the world.
TRUE WISDOM (IT’S ROOTS, QUALITIES AND FRUITS)
Verse 17A says that HEAVENLY wisdom comes from ABOVE [HEAVEN OR FROM GOD]
Prov. 9:10 = “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”;
It’s described in verse 17 (read verse). There are nine qualities listed here and I want to look at them quickly and then look at our greatest example of heavenly wisdom.
These things we don’t discern by our senses. We have to have it revealed to us by God Himself. And He reveals it in a large part through the written Word of God, the Bible.
By living according to heavenly wisdom, we become God’s peacemakers and the fruit of our lives will be righteousness. That righteousness will be evident in our lives and also in the lives of others.
Is your life at peace? Do you see peace reflected in the lives of others?
We can be at PEACE even in the middle of a storm. A Submarine is in danger on the surface if the waves get too big. But when the storms come, a submarine can dive down below the surface of the water. The water is always calm below the surface. All that the submarine has to do is DIVE DEEP. To find peace, we can DIVE DEEP.
Illustration: The Rest Of The Story Behind The Photo (Lighthouse In The Storm).
The lighthouse off the northern coast of France has been operating since 1911. It has been unmanned and fully automated since 1991. On the night of December 20, 1989 a storm had smashed windows and flooded the lower floor of the lighthouse, washing away furniture and appliances. The keeper took refuge in the lantern room at the top, awaiting rescue. The next day he heard the sound of Jean Guichard’s helicopter, who was on a photo shoot. Thinking it was a rescue helicopter, the keeper, Théodore Malgorne, opened the door to see. He realized it was not the rescue helicopter, and noticed the giant wave just in time to turn back inside and shut the door. That huge wave broke against the back side of the lighthouse and engulfed it. All this time, Jean Guichard was in his helicopter taking pictures as fast as possible. Théodore Malgorne survived, and was later rescued. He was safe in the lighthouse. He was unaware of the coming waves, but the lighthouse stood and is still standing! He didn’t feel at peace but his safety was not in how he felt, but rather in the strength of the lighthouse.
Our peace does not come from our sense of inner peace, but from God’s ability to protect us from all danger. This PEACE comes from him and is the mark of those whose strength and wisdom come from God.
What is your choice? Which path will you choose?
Will we choose worldly wisdom or heavenly wisdom? Which path will you choose?