Summary: Seventh in a series on the book of James. Deals with the nature of true wisdom.
A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JAMES
Sermon # 7
“HOW WISE ARE YOU?”
We have at our disposal today more knowledge than at any time in history. More information has been produced in the last thirty years than in the previous five thousand. Today information doubles every four years. Since the advent of the Internet we have more knowledge at our fingertips than we can possibly process.
Our world has plenty of knowledge and education, but it didn’t necessarily bring along much wisdom. In fact, wisdom can often be learned from the fairly uneducated. Take children for instance.
• Patrick, age 10, says, “Never trust a dog to watch your food.”
• Michael, age 14, says, “When your dad is mad and asks you, ‘Do I look stupid?’ don’t answer him.” Wise man that Michael is, he also said, “Never tell your mom her diet’s not working.”
• Randy, 9 years of age said, “Stay away from prunes.” One has to wonder how poor Randy discovered that bit of wisdom.
• Lauren, age 9 says, “Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick.” Noami can tell you from experience with her son that finger nail polish does not make good lip stick either.
• Joel, 10 years old, says, “Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat.” and
• Eileen, age 8 says, “Never try to baptize a cat.”
Although there is much wisdom in what these children said there is more to wisdom than this. In fact James’ whole letter is an explanation about the purpose of trials in the life of a believer. And in order for the purpose of God to be worked out in the believer’s life one thing is required, wisdom. So James’ advice is merely to ask for it. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5).
James begins to deal with how to live our lives in verse thirteen by asking the question, "Who is wise and understanding among you?" No one wants to be seen as foolish or unwise. We all want to be perceived as intelligent and "in the know,” "as people of Wisdom” – and that is a good goal to set – a Scriptural goal. The book of Proverbs reminds us in 2:4 to seek for wisdom “as for hidden treasure.”
As we begin to examine what James says about this subject we need to be careful not to confuse knowledge and wisdom. During his retirement years, General Omar Bradley once remarked "the world has achieved brilliance without wisdom." General Bradley realized that there is a vast difference between wisdom and knowledge.
Knowledge alone isn’t enough. For example, let me share some things you may not have known.
Did you know?
-that there are only two people in Saudi Arabia who subscribe to “Surfer” magazine.
-that from space, the brightest man-made place is Las Vegas, Nevada.
- that the most stolen items in a drug store are batteries, cosmetics, film, sunglasses and get this Preparation H.
- that Weird Al Yankovic was valedict-orian of his High School class and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture.
Now you have advanced your store of knowledge but wisdom is more than knowing a lot of useless information. Unfortunately, that distinction is still often lacking in our modern world
There is still a tendency to equate wisdom with intelligence, titles and degrees. Little if any attention is given to the lifestyle of the quoted "expert" or the long-range effect of his supposed wisdom. Knowledge is the accumulation of facts. But wisdom is moral insight with understanding about practical application. Wisdom is measured not by degrees acquired, but by deeds accomplished. According to verse thirteen, our lifestyle will be the leading indicator of the level and source of our wisdom. “Who is wise and knowing among you? Let him show his works by his good conduct with meekness of wisdom.” Depending on the kind of lifestyle a person has, you can make an accurate judgment concerning the kind of wisdom they have -- whether it is the wisdom that comes from God or their wisdom is merely an earthly imitation.
James has already told us how we can get this true wisdom, which is from God. In James 1:5 we read, "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." The place to begin is to ask. But the real question is how can you put true wisdom into practice in your daily life? In order to answer this question, let’s look at the nature of true wisdom and at several actions you can take to put it into practice.