Summary: Pentecost 18(B) - Pray for the wisdom that comes from above since worldly wisdom produces selfish lives but God’s wisdom produces spiritual living.
PRAY FOR THE WISDOM THAT COMES FROM HEAVEN
James 3:13-4:6 - September 18, 2005 - Pentecost 18
Dear Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
There are many people in the Old Testament and New Testament who stand as examples for believers today. One example is Solomon--we probably remember quite a bit about Solomon. He was the son of David, and Solomon was the one called by God to lead God’s people. Solomon also built God’s temple, a permanent place for a house of worship for the Lord God Almighty. Solomon was young and inexperienced when the Lord called him to lead these children of Israel. So one night the Lord appeared to Solomon. He said to Solomon, "Solomon, ask for whatever you want and I will give it to you. Ask for anything or everything in the world." We may remember what Solomon asked for. Solomon said, "Since I am young and inexperienced and you gave me this great many people to lead, I need wisdom to know your direction in what to do." Solomon realized the importance of wisdom, not his wisdom or the wisdom of the world or the wisdom of earthly advisors that might surround him, but the wisdom that came from above, the wisdom of God.
That is what we are going to look at today, God’s wisdom that comes from above. Paul wrote to the Romans: "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out"(Romans 11:33). This unlimited wisdom of God is almost beyond our limited understanding. In our text James reminds us: Pray for the wisdom that comes from heaven.. Then he tells us why: PRAY FOR WISDOM THAT COMES FROM HEAVEN because:
I. Worldly wisdom produces selfish lives
II. God’s wisdom produces spiritual living.
II. WORLDLY WISDOM PRODUCES SELFISH LIVES
I encourage you to read chapter 3 of James. He starts by talking about the danger of the tongue. The tongue is very small, but yet it steers the life of a person just as a rudder, which is very small, can change the course of a ship. Then he comes down to the fact that words start from the heart, the heart that is evil at birth. The evil heart of man can easily lead to evil actions. Verse 14: "But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth." Of course, even though these people were believers, there was envy, jealousy, and ambition; an ambition to be number one. It was there because they still had a sinful heart. These believers were not completely perfect. James writes that if bitter envy and selfish ambition is there, don’t brag about that. James reminds the believers that attitude is only worldly wisdom. It is exactly the way the world lives.
James continues: 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. Even though the world around them is doing ungodly things in their wisdom to get ahead, doesn’t mean they should do the same. You have to remember this was a challenge for these believers. There were very few and maybe none who were lifelong Christians. Christianity was the new teaching, and so they had lived a long time in the ways of the world. They knew what it was to get ahead at the expense of everyone else. They knew what it was to have jealousy and ambition and that drive to put others down so that they may increase. James is reminding these believers that Christ has changed everything. Worldly wisdom is only self-serving, selfish wisdom. That kind of thinking James describes as even demonic, comes from the devil.
James goes on. This type of worldly thinking can lead to all sorts of problems. In our text, chapter 4: "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?" There is always that battle to always get my way or do what I want to do. Some of them did everything to get their own. It ended up with fights and quarrels. They looked out for themselves and no one else. And even more James says: "You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God." Very simply, they did not ask because in their own thinking they felt they could do everything themselves. They were going to grab everything of this life they wanted. They didn’t even ask God. They didn’t even acknowledge that God was the giver of all things.
When or if they did ask, listen to how they did pray: "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." They prayed selfishly. They lived in the wisdom of the world, which is selfish. They did not look out for their fellow Christians, but for themselves. In other words their worldly wisdom lead many of these believers to selfish lives.