Summary: Wisdom is something we would all like. In this pivotal passage in James, which is often tied to wisdom, I think is really about the peace of God. And how God’s wisdom leads to his peace.
Life constantly lays choices before us. Many are mundane and ordinary: If we say yes to fish at a restaurant, we also say no to chicken, beef and every other meat. To order one dessert is, in a way, to reject the other desserts. Some are bigger. When you get married, as your vows say, you forsake all others. To say yes to parenthood is to say no to a simpler life. These choices, what we eat, whether we marry, have kids, what job we take, all set direction in our lives.
As I was thinking about this this past week, I kept thinking, is wisdom something we are dying to know about? I bet if we took a poll here this morning and asked for your top 10 requests to God right now, I wonder if wisdom would be one of them.
Have you ever met someone who when you were with them, you loved to get advice from them? They were someone that you consider to be a wise person. All of us at one point or another seek out people who are wiser than we are.
This happens in the movies often. It happened in the clip that we just saw. Here is a guy that knows so much, yet he doesn’t know anything. In movies with a hero, they often have someone in the background who is helping them, who is smarter than they are. Batman had Alfred to help him sort things out. In Star Wars, the Jedi had Yoda. The X-Men had the Professor. Rocky had Mick in his corner. But the point is, here were people who had incredible skill, yet they sought out wisdom.
Since Katie and I have been married, we have sought out couples who are ahead of us in life. Before we had kids, we looked for couples with kids. Now we look for couples with kids in elementary school. When we were trying to figure out retirement and investing, we sought out couples who were close to retirement and had done that well.
I have always found it interesting that professional athletes still have personal coaches and trainers. They know there is a limit to what they know. They may have the natural ability, but they seek out people who are wiser in certain areas.
Wisdom is a funny thing though. I mean, how do you nail it down? How do you decide who is wise and who isn’t? According to Webster, Wisdom is the ability, developed through experience, insight and reflection, to discern truth and exercise good judgment. Discernment I think is the key word in that definition. To be able to discern things.
As we have been moving through the process of adding board members, which we will be voting on in two weeks. One of the things that I told our current board is that the first thing I want, are people with the gift of discernment. Because that is a key to leading a church, being able to discern where God is taking us. Essentially, wise people.
If you have your bibles, you can open them to the book of James, it is on p. 870 if you grabbed a bible in the lobby. We have spent the last few weeks walking through this letter that James wrote to Christians in the 1st Century. The author James, was the brother of Jesus, so on this topic of wisdom, he should have a lot to say. Last week we looked at the beginning of chapter 3, where James spends a lot of time talking about how we use out tongue. Then he moves into this discussion on wisdom.
This is what it says in verse 13: 13Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Throughout this letter, James contrasts a lot of things. He does it here again. In chapter 1 he contrasts the person who considers himself religious with one who has a religion that is pure and faultless. He moves on to whether we will treat the poor with respect or not. Will we assist needy people, or will we talk about assisting them? Will we tame our tongue, or will it be a destructive force in our lives? Here is contrasts to kinds of wisdom.