Godly Wisdom (James 3:13-18)

October 23, 2022

Series: James

Scripture: James 3:13-18

Welcome to the service today. We’ve been studying the Book of James. We’ll continue with that this morning. So you can turn your Bibles to James, chapter three. But first, I want to let you know a little bit about me. It’s been a year since we bought our house in Orlando, so we are here to stay, God willing. The roots are firmly planted into the ground for many, many years. So we have a house in Orlando, and I will tell you, it’s been a blast, keyword blast, upgrading and remodeling our house in many different ways. And when I do say blast, dad joke, I mean that literally. It’s been a blast. Last week, last couple of weeks, we blasted away a ton of concrete. We’ve been removing these planters, which we inherited in the front of our yard. And I think these levels of concrete have been there since Old Testament times, so tons of it. So we’ve removed about 5,000 lbs of concrete in the last two weeks. And I’ll tell you what, it was my first experience with a jackhammer. So you can see the picture there. And really excited. I started using that jackhammer the next day in the mail, I received my man card that I had been missing for quite some time.

So I got that back from using the man card. But in all seriousness, I think I’m grateful for friends in the church, friends like Gil Hildago, who advised me throughout this demo project I needed lots of advice before undertaking something I had never done before. And I do tell you what, and I think many of you can relate if you’ve been around the church for a long time, one of the greatest blessings of Christianity is that well rounded wisdom that we have in this church family. If you need plumbing wisdom, we got it. You can find it. All right? I don’t mess with that stuff. I don’t want to, but I can get help to do it right. If you need expertise with your AC, which I’d say is pretty important in Central Florida, we’ve got that in the church. You need input on how best to paint your house, you know who to call. Yes, you do. Can I get an amen on that? All right. That’s right and true Carlos style.

For 20 plus years in the church, I’ve just been blessed in so many different ways. I’ve received practical invaluable wisdom on so many different things. As a single man, I received great wisdom and help on how to be a terrific roommate with guys. All right. That did not come naturally for me, being raised a single child. Also, I received great investment from people and from older brothers and more experienced men in the church on how to have pure and fun relationships with women. Doing that the right way. Had no idea what I was doing. I did it the wrong way for many, many years. Got lots of help and much needed help on how to go steady with the girl I liked, which really was a good thing to figure out and do it the right way. Just getting help on if, when, and how to propose or get engaged and all those different things. Career advice, marriage advice, parenting advice. We have financial experts in our church who have coached me to repent and get out of debt. All right? That was not a given for me. I had made a mess of my life in that area. And where would I be without the help I’ve received over the last four or five years with my mental health? So thankful for the church. Wisdom cries out from all the corners of the church. It’s there for you if you’re willing to humble yourself and seek it out. Wisdom is not hard to find in this church.

And no matter what you’re going through right now, I can guarantee you this, you’ve never been there before. Whatever life stage you’re in, whatever you’re experiencing right now, this is new for you. You’ve never been there before, so don’t pretend you have. You and I need wisdom. Which begs the question, who is your source for wisdom? Who is mentoring you right now in the different areas of your life? If you’re seeking advice, who or where are you getting that intel from? And how important is the integrity and proven track record of your source?

Now, James asked the same question in James, chapter three, verse 13. Let’s go ahead and read today’s text. James, 3:13. James asked, who is wise and understanding among you by his good conduct? Let him show his works in meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

All right, verse 13. We’ll look at that again. James asked a rhetorical question here in verse 13. Who is wise and understanding among you? And I would say that’s the million dollar question for this day and age. We live in a Google YouTube blog post era of so many self-proclaimed experts, but who really is wise? And true to form James says it’s not just what you say, but more important, it’s what you do, right? And that takes us back to James, chapter one, when he says, don’t just hear the word, do what it says. And then in chapter two of James, he says, religion apart from deeds is in fact dead.

So we return to our original question here. If you’re seeking advice, and I hope you’re seeking advice, that’s at least the first step. That’s not a given either. But if you’re seeking advice, if you’re looking for someone to mentor you in the different areas of your life, because remember, you haven’t been here before. If you’re seeking input, who or where are you getting it from? With all the resources we have out there at our fingertips, in our pockets, literally, who or what is your source for wisdom? Who is wise and understanding among you? James answers that question. He says, by his good conduct or by her good conduct, let him or her show their works. How? In the meekness of wisdom. And there it is. That’s the answer to the question. That’s our thesis statement for the wisdom in this letter. Remember this as you look for answers, as you look for mentors, if you’re looking for help with different parts of your life, the truly wise will consistently prove their wisdom in the meekness of their lives. So if you’re looking for people with answers, people who can help you the most with your life, for someone to lead you forward, it’s those among us that meet this standard.

When seeking wisdom, I appeal to you, consider the outcome of their lives. Day in, day out, season after season, year after year, through good times, through suffering. True wisdom comes from those whose lives have stood the test of time, lives of integrity, lives of repentance in areas such as their career, their marriages, their families. All these, you want to be worthy of imitation. And that’s a danger sometimes of just clicking on something and you can get some stuff, all kinds of good stuff out there on the internet. But do you know their lives? Do you know the result of what’s happening there? Be careful. We want to follow and get advice from people and get wisdom from people who can confidently say, come learn from me as I strive to follow Christ. And here I highlighted the word meekness. That’s important. That’s because it’s not enough just to do the right thing, it’s also doing the right thing the right way. OK? Because the ends don’t justify the means. True wisdom is saturated with meekness. It’s called here the meekness of wisdom. Back then, in Greek thought, meekness was not a well-respected character trait, all right? It was very countercultural. Not much has changed.

It’s election time right now, right? We got that coming up. I really have not seen many of these signs that say vote for me, I’m meek. All right? I have never seen that on a platform. Alright? To them, meekness is weakness, right? It’s not a quality that our society looks for in its leaders. As a people, we like being the smartest person in the room. I mean, it’s a turn off for everyone else. Just hint there. But that’s where we go to. But meekness means a person is gentle in spirit with others. Doesn’t mean they know any less doesn’t mean they’re not confident, doesn’t mean they’re beating themselves up and there’s some ego issue. No, it’s exactly that. They do have confidence and they’re gentle in spirit with it. They don’t have to prove themselves. They’re not insecure. Meekness, I believe, is the ultimate expression of humility, in the sense that someone who’s meek has tons of strength, someone who’s meek has lots of talent and so much expertise. But all of it is under the complete control of God. It’s harnessed by God, and that’s why it’s so powerful. As James wrote in chapter one, verse 21, the wise man or the wise woman receives with meekness the implanted word of God. And what that means is you can count on this person because there’s ongoing growth, because they’re submitting to God’s commands.

That’s where their strength comes from, and you can trust it. And all of this from James is coming from his older brother Jesus, right? This is all related to the Sermon on the Mount and the ministry of Jesus. Meekness is the brand of wisdom that Jesus modeled. It’s the wisdom that Jesus built and expects in his kingdom. It’s a kingdom of meekness. It’s one of the first beatitudes. Blessed are the meek, the meek shall inherit the land. Right?

One of my favorite invitations from Jesus to us to follow him as his disciples is when he said, come to me. Learn from me. Why? Because I’m meek, I’m gentle, I’m humble in heart. If you follow me, if you learn from me, you will find rest for your souls. I’ll show you how to live life. So Jesus came. He showed us that meekness is not weakness. Meekness is the path to wisdom. And I appeal to you to remember this. The truly wise consistently prove it by the meekness of their lives.

And I’ll also say this, and this was important to James as we continue to read in this section. When making decisions, it’s equally important to spot false wisdom. And there’s a lot of it out there. Don’t be a sucker. Right? False wisdom is everywhere. And that’s the warning from James. It may not even be intentional, but people set themselves up as advisors and were drawn to them. I’ve seen it in the church. And why does this happen? Even in the Church, why does this happen? Because false wisdom is easy. It’s the path of least resistance. False wisdom gives us the answers in life that we want to hear, that our itching ears want to hear. Watch out, that’s a trap.

Let’s read the warning again in verse 14. James three, verse 14. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but it’s earthly unspiritual and demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exists, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

So make no mistake, James is firing a warning shot to us here. Watch out for wisdom coming from people with their own life triggers and their own impure motives. All right? I guess that would put all of us in there. Okay? That’s why we need to be Bereans. We need to search the scriptures diligently, right, to find out if this is really true, even if it sounds good. Because wisdom, you got to watch out for this false wisdom. It comes from people who are working from their own dysfunction so many times, and I don’t even know if they’re always selfaware of at verse 14, there’s a hidden agenda behind this brand of wisdom. First, bitter jealousy. Bitter jealousy will propel this person’s so called expertise on how to live the Christian life. There’s also selfish ambition mixed in there. And to give you a flavor for this word in the Greek it’s the Greek word commonly used to describe politicians. I think that tells us a lot about selfish ambition. All right?There are motives that you know you can’t necessarily trust here. There’s a lot going on. There’s more than just I’m here to help you, right?

So if you combine, this is a deadly concoction, you combine bitter jealousy, selfish ambition. That means that down deep, this person promotes his or her own opinion many times to the exclusion of others. Be wary if it’s a closed system with special knowledge only provided in that circle and other people are missing out on it. This person can be very competitive about his or her instruction, right? Insecure competitive about that. Suspicious of undermining other leaders, fighting for their rights as an expert in the church. I bet some of you have seen that before. You’ve seen that movie before. And sadly, I’ve seen these type of situations in every church I’ve been a part of over the years. Satan works through people to do these things. In fact, I’m always a few bad decisions away from being that person or being in that group. And there’s no getting around it. This is diabolical wisdom. Verse 15 gives us the holy, shall I say, unholy triad of false wisdom. The unholy triad of false wisdom. It’s earthly, it’s natural, and it’s from the devil.

Number one. It’s earthly. Let’s break this down. This means it does not originate from God, it’s from the earth, which isn’t in itself altogether bad. You just need to realize when the Bible is saying this that it’s earthly. That means it’s inferior. Do you really want that type of wisdom? It’s inferior. It’s limited, right?

This type of wisdom, though, the bad thing about it is it promotes itself as superior even though it’s inferior. And this type of wisdom will shut out God and limits its scope to worldly solutions and feelings, right? It gives lip service to God. But the word of God well, the word of God, certainly you need to learn more than that. This is simply not enough to solve this problem. And that’s why this is so appealing.

Number two, it is natural. That’s also why it’s attractive to us. It’s normal. It feels right. A lot of people are giving something similar to this similar advice. It’s normal wisdom. Your translation, your Bible may have the word unspiritual. That is correct. That means if you break it down, that means this wisdom is lacking the life of the spirit. Which means, think about it, if it’s natural, then there’s no opportunity for it to be supernatural. So we got to get our expectations right on that. If there’s nothing supernatural to this wisdom, don’t expect supernatural results to come from it, right?

It’s like if you do A, B and C, and you do this, you do that, and I’m giving you these great practicals and all of that, but if it’s just natural wisdom, you can’t expect something supernatural to happen. Like repentance is supernatural.

Number three, false wisdom is demonic. And this is exactly what you think it means. False wisdom is not just some lesser choice. False wisdom is not just, oh, my bad. That’s a mistake. I could have probably done better. There no this type of wisdom is demon inspired. Satan has many, many different ways to work through all different kinds of people to get his false messaging out there. And it has just enough truth in it that we buy into it and feel good about it, right? Unfortunately, diabolical wisdom will not be packaged in this scary way with the skull and the scary teeth, all right? The Devil’s way smarter than that. I’m just trying to scare you right now along with James, all right, with the picture and it’s that season of the year. But I’m telling you, like, Satan is way too slick for this, all right? Satan lives in the shadows. He wants you to believe he doesn’t even exist. He wants to be unexposed. Satan masquerades as wisdom in any number of places, including the church. The last thing Satan wants is for you to see him as a threat. He’d rather you forget about him, right? But don’t make that tragic mistake. He’s thrown out all kinds of terrible false wisdom disguised as the next great thing. That’s normal.

So don’t make that mistake. And here’s how. Always pray for Godly wisdom. We need to pray more for that. I need to pray more for that in every area of my life. Pray for Godly wisdom. Remember how James began his letter to us? In James one, verse five, he writes, if any of you lacks wisdom and I think all of us can raise our hands on that one, depending on the time, the situation, the circumstances we’re in. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. What an incredible promise from the Almighty God. You asked for it, he’s going to give it to you. All right? In a world full of false wisdom, demonic schemes, this prayer, this promise, gives us hope, right? With this prayer, we have a promise from God you and I will overcome.

There is a catch, all right? When you ask for wisdom from God and God answers that prayer, don’t miss it. And here’s how we miss it. We may be expecting something else. Maybe Godly wisdom isn’t what we thought it was. Make sure you know what you’ll be getting when you pray for it, all right? When you ask for wisdom from heaven, make sure you know exactly what you’re asking for. And James tells us what to expect. In James three, verse 17, he gives us this definition. He tells us what Godly wisdom is when we pray for it. This is what to expect. He says in verse 17, the wisdom from heaven, the wisdom from above, is first of all pure, then peaceable. Okay? You can expect it to be that. Gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

So here James unpacks the true definition of wisdom, and it may not be what you thought it was. First of all, it comes from above. James 1:17. Everything good in our lives comes from where? Above. It’s a good gift from God, including wisdom.

Next godly wisdom is pure. All right? This is purity in the sense of when you pray for this wisdom, god’s going to give you Godly wisdom that’s unmixed. It’s untainted by any competition, any jealousy, any triggers that dysfunction inside of us. Pure wisdom comes from a total allegiance to Jesus and his church.

So Godly wisdom is going to be pure in the sense of it’s not going to compete with the church or Jesus, and that’s not a given, all right? That’s the test of it here. Godly wisdom is peaceful. This means that the person giving this wisdom is not going to be combative about it. The message is not going to be combative, but instead, it’s always going to be building relational bridges between people. Godly wisdom resolves conflict. So many times if it’s me and I’m in conflict with someone else, or you’re in conflict with someone, or you’re trying to resolve conflict between two other people, your wisdom comes right here, and it’s character based, right? There are many solutions, 50 different steps we can take to be able to resolve conflict. But most of all, it’s this message in this heart of peace. It’s integrity. It builds bridges. That’s what Godly wisdom will do.

Wisdom from above is gentle. Okay? Wisdom is kind. Wisdom is our passions and our knowledge under control, under the control of God, just like Jesus. That’s Jesus: gentle. Godly wisdom is open to reason. How much wisdom out there do you think is actually open to reason? All right? 99% of so-called experts of our day, I don’t know if they’re open to reason, open to be persuaded, to listen, be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry. See all the connections that James is making here in his letter? Godly wisdom is open to reason, and wisdom from God is full of mercy, good fruits, impartial. Remember favoritism? We talked about that. Favoritism is a sin and it’s forbidden. Well, Godly wisdom is impartial and it’s sincere, it’s genuine. Quite a stark contrast to the diabolical wisdom that can often sweep us away. So to summarize, true wisdom is revealed by the integrity of the person and the ongoing outcome of that person’s life.

I’m probably not going to preach for a few weeks. I’m glad to get a little bit of a break because it just seemingly happens, like whenever I get a topic, I get hammered on it in my own life and I see my own sin, which is a good thing, but it’s very, very painful.

There were a few hours yesterday afternoon when I was driving my kids around to their different activities and I was just so much more concerned with the wisdom of doing things right, getting the right things, doing the right things, doing things the right way, rather than the Godly wisdom of how am I treating the people around me. Yes, I was stressing everyone out.

So you get what I’m saying here. It’s the person. There’s no question. A man or woman of Godly wisdom will impact their families, they will impact the church for the good, and they will impact this world for God’s kingdom. If you want to take a deeper dive on this, it’s something I started to notice as I was studying this out. Study this scripture, but also compare it to what Paul is doing in Galatians, chapter five, when he talks about flesh and spirit, great connections there, about what is false and what is of the flesh and what is of this earth and what is supernatural. Lots of them.

Speaking of a deeper dive, here are your living water challenges for the week. If you’re visiting with us, that’s really our motto as a church, we aspire to bring living water, the living water of Jesus, the message, the good news of Jesus to Central Florida.

So here are some living water challenges for the week. Number one, reject worldly wisdom. I hope we’ve exposed Satan today. I hope we’ve revealed some of his schemes to you. He has schemes to destroy you, your family, and destroy the church. It’s not this person or that person or this philosophy, that philosophy, this government, whatever. Satan. All right?

Also, selfish, ambition, envy, rebellion, these are sins you don’t see a lot of times. They’re in the shadows. And the devil likes it that way, right? He lives in the shadows. Learn to recognize worldly wisdom for what it is. Examine yourself and why you may be drawn to this wisdom, that’s worldly. Ask yourself, what is my source for wisdom? Who is teaching me right now about how to live my life in its current stage. Who or what is influencing my decisions the most?

Number two pray for daily wisdom. We already talked about that. Pray the prayer of James one, verse five. Pray, then seek people out in this church who can help you in very practical ways. No matter if you’re married, single, whatever you are, whatever life stage you’re in right now, you’ve never been there before. Get help from someone else with wisdom and look at the integrity of their life, the outcome of their life. Get help. God will bless that humility. Get help with your work environment, your finances, your living situation, your dating life, the list goes on and on. The church is full of people with the meekness of wisdom. It is a blessing. Don’t miss out on it. You need to seek these people out, find them.

And last but not least, recognize Godly wisdom when you see it and when you hear it. You need to study this because we can’t get the wrong idea about what Godly wisdom is. James tells us that Godly wisdom is all about the character of the person giving it, the meekness of wisdom. Look for wisdom that is aligned with Jesus and his church. Look for wisdom that’s aligned with relationship building and peace. And that’s open to reason. If the wisdom or if the wisdom that you are receiving or are used to getting sounds easy, sounds natural. If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. I mean, more on that when we get ourselves in bad situations. Think about the bad situations you’ve gotten yourself into in life and you may be still reaping some of the consequences of that. Think about the bad situations we’ve been in. It’s typically because we’ve taken some shortcuts. Sometimes things just happen and they happen. But a lot of times we take shortcuts. Shortcuts in our dating, our romance, in our marriage, shortcuts in getting our kids to behave, shortcuts in our finances and getting into debt.

I’m telling you, pursue the integrity and the long view of Godly wisdom. Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct, let him show his works and the meekness of wisdom.

So why do we do this? What’s the motivation? Well, here’s why you and I must seek this Godly wisdom. If you need some motivation, as I said before, Godly wisdom gives us hope. We need hope in a world of false wisdom, not knowing what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s truth. In a world of demonic schemes, godly wisdom brings us hope. A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. Verse 18. So in the seasons ahead, only wisdom from above will bring you a harvest of peace. Only wisdom from God is going to bring you a harvest of peace. That’s the only thing that’s going to make you happy. And take note of the farming analogy. That kind of can get lost on us. I don’t know if anyone in here is a farmer or was raised on a farm. You don’t have to tell me that, but do take note the analogy. Farming takes time. It’s not always exciting. It’s not always glamorous. A lot of it is just getting up and doing the right thing day after day after season after season after year after year to reap the harvest. Farming takes patience. There’s no shortcuts in farming. Farming means seasons of rain. Farming means seasons of drought and not knowing what’s coming next. But eventually, the harvest will come. In the same way, if you and I cling to God, if we pray to God for wisdom, and if we reject demonic wisdom, in due time, our Father will answer our prayers for wisdom. He will. God will answer your prayer. It’s a promise. Hold him to that promise and our Father will bring each one of us an amazing harvest of peace. Our best days as Christians are right in front of us.

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