Summary: With God’s help, we can live wisely! “You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” James 3:18 (MSG)
Living the Foolproof Life
James 3:13-18 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Intro: There is plenty of knowledge and learning in this world, but it doesn’t necessarily produce wisdom. In reality, wisdom can often be learned from uneducated people. 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.” He also said, “Never tell your mom her diet’s not working.”
• Randy, 9 years of age said, “Stay away from prunes.”
• Lauren, age 9 says, “Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick.”
• Joel, 10 years old, says, “Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat.” • Eileen, age 8 says, “Never try to baptize a cat.” -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 Preparation H.
- that Weird Al Yankovic was valedictorian of his High School class and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture. [John Hamby, sermoncentral.com]
-Do you feel enlightened now? It isn’t all that difficult to accumulate knowledge but wisdom is more than knowing a lot of useless information. Unfortunately, that distinction is still often lacking in our world today. So what kind of wisdom does James refer to here in chapter 3, and how do we get it? Well, if you’ve heard me say much at all, I hope you’ve heard me say that everything ties into relationship – with God, man, or both. James continues to address the issue of Jewish Zealots stirring up ideas of revolt and revolution among the believers to whom he is writing. So he shows man’s way of approaching wisdom, then shows what it looks like when it comes from the Lord. And v.18 of our text really gives the main idea of the message today. Let me give it to you from the Message Bible:
Prop: “You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” James 3:18 (MSG) With God’s help, we can live wisely!
TS: Let’s take a look at these two kinds of wisdom and identify some characteristics that will help us recognize what true wisdom will look like in our own lives.
I. Marks of Manmade Wisdom
-As we look at 4 basic things here, notice that each one ties into our relationships. These might be considered the default settings of our sinful, fallen nature. They tend to come naturally for all human beings. We are told in numerous movies and books that man is basically good and will eventually figure things out for himself. However, we see a world that screams the opposite! We can’t all just get along! Without God, we are not nice people! Let’s look at these marks of man’s wisdom (Or we might even call them roadblocks to true wisdom).
1. Bitter envy - pointed, sharp, zealous (ties in w/ Zealots who fancied themselves successors of Phinehas- Numbers 25:7-8), jealousy possessing no concern for the feelings or welfare of others. It is purely self-centric, the philosophy of self-indulgence.
-Please note that we call these by different names when they show up in our own lives. If we have bitter envy against someone, we might call it a desire for justice. Or we get angry at those who are wealthy, thinking that we somehow deserve what they have. There is nothing admirable about this! It is man’s idea of wisdom. It’s all about me and what I want!
2. Selfish ambition - a contentious selfish motivation. Doing something for personal gain w/o concern for others. The word was used w/ anyone seeking political office for power and personal glorification. We might be tempted to rename this as having a lot of drive or motivation. But if it puts me at the center as the primary beneficiary, then it is pure selfishness and does not reflect true wisdom that comes from God.