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Summary: Message 18 in our exposition of James. This message covers 3:15-18 instructing us to live wisely followed by several insights regarding wisdom from above and wisdom from earthly , soulish and demonic sources.

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Chico Alliance Church

Pastor David Welch

“Wisdom from Above” or "Living Wisely"

The book of James is all about what it looks like to live by genuine faith. James recorded numerous instructions (51) that a person living by faith readily obeys because they are God’s instructions. James described the kind of life the one who claims to live by faith lives.

I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-27

Joyfully endure – continued endurance produces maturity and stability.

II. Faith’s response to partiality and prejudice 2:1-13 Love others as ourselves

III. Faith’s True Nature 2:14-26 Believe God and behave godly

IV. Faith’s response to conversation 3:1-12 Control your speech

James clearly described the power of our speech and the difficulty in bridling it for good purpose rather than bad. He urged few to become teachers because of the higher scrutiny and the difficulty in avoiding harm caused by what we say. Even though James focused on the tongue, he knew that what comes out of our mouth is only a reflection of what resides in the heart. He adamantly asserted that we ALL stumble in many ways. A great many of those ways involves our mouth. He also asserted that only the pure in heart or spiritually mature can control their speech.

The next section moves from the outward manifestation of the tongue to the inner workings of the heart.

It is impossible to control the tongue without addressing what lies in the heart.

Here is a brief roadmap of the passage.

James issued an instruction to live wisely.

He followed the instruction with some insights regarding wisdom.

He contrasted human wisdom with divine wisdom.

He identified the character and source of human wisdom.

He concluded the section by identifying the key characteristics of divine wisdom.

V. Faith’s wise living 3:13-18 Live wisely

James is all about demonstrating facts rather than merely declaring them. Don’t just declare your faith, demonstrate it by your behavior. Don’t just declare your wisdom, demonstrate it by your behavior.

Wisdom is the ability to understand and to discern what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

Expository Pulpit Series – James: Faith in Action.

James contrasts God’s way of doing things and Satan’s way of doing things.

God’s way of doing things promotes peaceful behavior.

Satan’s way of doing things promotes destructive behavior.

A. Instruction – If you think you are wise, live wisely

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

If you claim to have divine wisdom and understanding, show it by your behavior. “Show it” appears in a position of prominence in the sentence. The true test of faith is works not words. James used the same word used earlier -- “I will show you my faith BY my works.” The same is true concerning wisdom. Don’t just say you have wisdom, show you have wisdom by your lifestyle. How we behave communicates much clearer than our claims. We often call people to show us. I.e. “Show me the money!” “Prove it!”

Jesus “showed” His hands and feet to the doubting disciples. Jesus demonstrated His outrageous claims by His life. Divine wisdom imbedded in the heart manifests in the life. We recognize a wise person more by their walk than their words. We recognize foolishness by someone’s external behavior.

James called for a clear manifestation of the meekness or humility of wisdom.

We humbly receive the word implanted.

We humbly live out the word implanted.

Godly behavior is not “in your face” but persuades with the humility of your heart. James boldly called out the hypocrites. James follows his command to live wisely with five insights regarding wisdom. Wisdom is the application of knowledge or information to life.

Human wisdom applies human reasoning to life.

Divine wisdom applies divine revelation to life.

B. Insights

1. Claiming wisdom without wise living makes you a liar. 3:13-14

If you claim to be wise and understand God’s ways but don’t live according to divine revelation you live a lie.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.

Don’t arrogantly claim to know God’s ways while living contrary to them. This makes you an arrogant liar.

Your external behavior will either validate your claims or invalidate your claims. James identified two fires burning in the heart that set the tongue on fire.

“Bitter jealousy”

The term translated jealousy is a fervent desire or boiling, to have something. It can be a positive fervor or a negative fervor depending the object desired. James call it BITTER jealousy. Bitter is the word sharp, piercing, acid. “I jealously desire what you have to the point where I breed bitterness.” Such bitterness often erupts with a sharp, piercing tongue.

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