Summary: This passage is a detailed instruction about wisdom—what it is and how we are to use it.
Tonight’s passage is a detailed instruction about wisdom—what it is and how we are to use it. Many are guilty of twisting and adjusting wisdom to mean what they want. One of the greatest temptations that ever confronts us is the temptation to twist true wisdom. This is what this passage addresses.
READ v. 13. Have you ever known someone that is smart but tries to make you feel inferior because of how smart they are? I’ve known a few. But I don’t let it bother me because they may be intelligent, but they have no smarts, if you know what I mean. I had a college professor in Chemistry who was very intelligent when it came to Chemistry. He was a good man. He wasn’t overpowering with his knowledge. But he had no smarts. I used to work as a butcher for Lone Oak grocery and it amazed my professor that I knew how to cut up a chicken. He was brain smart, but not too bright in the common sense area.
Within our church, who are the wise teachers and leaders? What teacher among us wants to be unwise and ignorant? Of course, there aren’t any. The point being stressed in this verse is this: “Do you want to be a wise teacher? Then here is how. You must do some things.
Some of the teachers to whom James was writing didn’t understand the meaning of true wisdom. Some of them were acting as empty headed as a person can act, yet they thought they were wise. That’s the purpose of this passage; to stir ministers and teachers to think about how wise they really are. He says, “A wise teacher will demonstrate two traits:
1. There is the trait of good behavior and conduct. Wisdom has to do with how a person behaves and conducts himself. A wise person should apply what they know to life. This is true in any field or profession, but it’s especially true in the field of Biblical teaching. So, a Biblical teacher must live what he teaches and preaches. The wise teacher knows that they can’t teach one thing and do something else.
So, in the eyes of Scripture, the truly wise teacher is not a person who has all kinds of facts and theories. Rather, he is a teacher who is a good person—a moral and just person, a loving and caring person, a person who lives what he knows and teaches—who shows a good behavior in all his works.
2. The second trait is the trait of humility. The truly wise teacher will show humility. “But Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.” That’s how some act. Humility is a state of mind. It doesn’t mean a person is weak. It means the teacher loves people and walks humbly among others regardless of their status in life.
Someone said that there is a church in Palestine where the door is so low that one must stoop to enter. This was to prevent medieval raiders from riding their horses into the church to disrupt the service. The door is called, “The Humility Gate.” The way into God’s presence is often through the Humility Gate. We must be humble to really be wise.
Being humble doesn’t mean that you’re weak. A humble person forgets and lives for others because of what Christ has done for him.
READ vv. 14-16. What is this passage saying to you right now? Read it again.
Envy = Jealousy. Is there ever jealousy in a church? Is there any jealousy in this church? In the career world, people are ambitious—always trying to get a promotion or higher pay. Sometimes it doesn’t matter who they step on as they try to climb the corporate ladder. Is that a problem in churches? Where does that attitude come from? (v.15)
This is the false wisdom of the world. But it shows us that there are teachers, ministers, and laymen alike, who follow the false wisdom of the world. Yes, there are sometimes those in churches who are jealous of others and their position, their preaching and teaching ability, their leadership, the recognition that someone might get. They are hungry for attention. Sometimes the teachers, ministers and leaders of the church might even be compared to a former person.
When I was called as pastor here at SEBC, I was often compared to some of the former pastors. Someone once told me, “The former pastor used to cut all the grass here at church.” I said, “I know that. But I called him and he doesn’t want to do it anymore.” (Just kidding)
But in the 23 years I have been here, I have had more than one instance of witnessing jealousy among members, teachers, etc. James is telling us that this has no place in the family of God. No preacher or teacher should ever envy another person’s ability. This contradicts what true wisdom is.