Summary: Wisdom is a gift from God. It is something that we can ask for and only useful if the wisdom we share has a heavenly source.
I hope you recall that James is speaking to Jews living in a foreign land. Jews that believe that the messiah has come and are persecuted for their belief. The book of James teaches us a bout a faith that works, a faith that is made visible by actions.
Today we are looking at how James describes wisdom. I mentioned last week how James’ writing style is hard to outline. Instead of flowing from topic to topic he seems to pop from idea to idea. Back in Chapter 1verse 5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
I did some research on wisdom. I found a couple of collections of wisdom that I thought might be valuable to share. The first one is a list of tidbits of wisdom that come from children. It seems that sometimes it takes a child to find life’s simple truths.
For example: Patrick, age 10, said, “Never trust a dog to watch your food.”
Michael, 14, said, “When your dad is mad and asks you, "Do I look stupid?" don’t answer him.”
Michael, wise man that he was also said, “Never tell your mom her diet’s not working.” • Randy, 9 years of age said, “Stay away from prunes.”
I wonder how he discovered that bit of wisdom?
Kyoyo, age 9, said, “Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time.”
Naomi, 15 said, “If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse.”
Lauren, age 9 said, “Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick.”
Joel, 10 years old, said, “Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat.” Eileen, age 8 said, “Never try to baptize a cat.”
I don’t know about you, I learned something about wisdom when I read that list.
I found another collection of wisdom statements that I thought you might find useful.
It is called The Wisdom of Cowboys:
• Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
• Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier ’n puttin’ it back in.
• If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.
• If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
• Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
• There’s two theories to arguin’ with a woman. Neither one works.
• If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
• Never slap a man who’s chewin’ tobacco.
• Always drink upstream from the herd.
• Don’t kick a sleeping dog.
• The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.
The thing I want you to notice in the examples I listed, mostly originate in connection to negative personal experiences
I have heard people say that experience is the best teacher.
I hope you will recall that James clearly told us that everyone makes mistakes. We have good and bad experiences. We mess up. James told us that a perfect person can keep his body and his tongue in check because they have perfect discipline. However, he said no man, woman or child is perfect.
Last week we learned that the tongue is the “tattle tale” of the soul. Our mouths and our actions will demonstrate what our relationship with God is actually like.
A person, a teacher, a Christian with false motives will eventually be ratted out by their own tongue and actions. So, last week we learned that nobody is perfect and that we have to let the Captain, God steer our lives.
Today’s scripture James asks a question, “Who is wise and understanding among you?”
Is that a trick question? A little trap to get the pride filled readers to tattle tale on themselves. I would like to be able to answer that question with a yes. I think it is OK to want to be wise, to want to know the answers to life’s questions. It seems that when we think of a wise person we get an image of the man with a long beard sitting on the mountain top and people approach and ask the meaning of life.
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.”
James asks are any of you wise and then tells us that a person that is wise will show it by their good life. Lives that have deeds, actions that originate out of humility that comes from wisdom.