Summary: We need to accept God’s wisdom and reject worldly wisdom.

First Baptist Church

October 7, 2001

James 3:13-18

Have you ever met people who were absolute geniuses? They seem

to know everything. If they were on Jeopardy or Who Wants to Be

A Millionaire, they walk away winners. But have you ever noticed

that many geniuses, while exhibiting amazing intelligence or what we

might call wisdom, don’t seem to know how to boil water or make a

piece of toast, although they could tell you all the properties of

boiling water and how a toaster works. I am so thankful I’m not a

genius!! Aren’t you??

Our passage this week is all about wisdom. But the wisdom James

is talking about is not the kind that we generally learn in school and

from reading lots of books. The wisdom James is talking about is

heavenly wisdom. In order to show what true or pure wisdom is,

James compares heavenly wisdom with earthly wisdom. Once

again, as we strive to become more authentic Christians, James

teaches us where the true source of wisdom is — from heaven, and

where not to look for wisdom.

It may seem that James is stretching his point by saying the wisdom

you display is a reflection of your faith or lack of faith in Jesus

Christ. But as James has been trying to point out throughout the

entire book, our actions will ultimately tell the world if we are or are

not a true believer in Jesus Christ.

James begins by asking a question — "who is wise and

understanding among you?" It seems like a rather basic and

simplistic question, yet according to James, the ramifications for

demonstrating wisdom are eternal. James then helps us to know

what a wise and understanding person looks like, saying, ‘if you

have wisdom which is from God, then you will show it by your good

life and by the deeds that you do in accordance with that wisdom.’

So, what does James mean? The proof of wisdom and

understanding is shown by our deeds. Remember, last week we

spoke about taming our tongues. When we learn to keep our words

in check that is evidence of Godly wisdom. Only an unwise person

doesn’t know how to tame their tongue. Now, James takes it one

step further, and speaks to the issue of living in a manner that is

pleasing and joyful to God. That is what James means by living the

"good life." The good life is a life that seeks to please God in all of

our activities. And James says that Godly wisdom is evidenced by

our humility or our meekness. We generally view meekness as a sign

of weakness, however, that isn’t correct. Meekness is an attitude of

mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, through a persons

strength of character.

James goes on to spend the next three verses showing us the

opposite of Godly wisdom and what earthly wisdom looks like. He

tells us when we harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition, those are

signs of ‘false or earthly wisdom.’ How would we define bitter

envy? In the Greek, bitter envy comes from the word which means

zeal. So, we have this zeal, a desire and in a warped way, an

enthusiasm to be bitter and envious of others.

We all know people who are filled, not just with bitterness, but with

a deadly combination of bitterness and envy.

Armand M. Nicholi, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Harvard

Medical School, explains that Sigmund Freud died at the age of 83,

a bitter and disillusioned man. Freud was one of the most influential

thinkers of our time, but had little compassion for the common

person. In 1918, Freud wrote, "I have found little that is good about

human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are

trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical

doctrine or to none at all. Freud died friendless. Even his famous

pupils, Carl Jung & Alfred Adler, were expelled from his life,

because they chose to disagree with him. Freud died a bitter and

lonely man. (Unfinished Business, Charles Sell, Multnomah, 1989,

p. 121ff.)

Bitterness is a deadly poison that we must get rid of if we desire to

live a life that is pleasing to God, and seeks eternity. You see, we

can come up with so many excuses as to why we’re bitter, but in the

end none of them work. Our excuses may make others feel sorry

for you, but they won’t change you. If you want to let go of the

bitterness that fills your spirit, heart and mind; then you must finally

call on God to help you. Most people I know who suffer from

bitterness have no desire to let go of it. They think they have power

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Leron West

commented on Oct 1, 2006

These are good leads to this text. Coninue the kingdom work with His wisdom.

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