Summary: We are to pursue the wisdom that is "from above" not that which is of man.
WHAT IS THE POINT of pursuing wisdom? To become wise.
• Gaining wisdom is its own reward. Or is it?
• Philosophers might think so, but James has other ideas.
• James challenges us to think differently about wisdom.
• James lived during a time of great philosophers: The Greek: Claudius Ptolemy, the Roman: Epictetus, and the Jew: Philo of Alexandria.
I). But James tells us that wisdom isn’t achieved by meditation or just staying deep in thought for long periods of time: instead (like our faith), it is shown by action.
A). The wise person does show wisdom by just thinking wise thoughts or saying profound, thought-provoking sayings.
• We’ve all seen the cartoons of the tired hiker climbing up the steep mountain in search of some guru sitting in the mouth of some cave.
• We’ve heard the “Confucius say this…” or “Confucius say that…” sayings.
B). James says instead that a wise & understanding person shows his or her wisdom by living a life of good conduct and meekness.
• He tells us that true wisdom is wisdom from God…from above.
• And he elaborates on this by writing that the wisdom from above is "pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy."
• Although he does not say it quite this way, we can imagine James saying, "Wisdom without works is dead."
II). In between verses 13 & 17, that we just talked about, James moves from a discussion of wisdom to writing about the source of conflicts and disputes among believers.
A). These conflicts and disputes are caused by “wisdom” as well, he says.
• But this kind of wisdom doesn’t come from above, instead it belongs to the world!
• And this earthly wisdom, James writes, causes “bitterness, envy, and selfishness.”
B). Now here’s something we really need to pay attention to:
• Look at vv. 15-16, “This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. But where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
• It’s earthly (not from heaven); sensual (literally: “animal-like”), and demonic (literally: “from Hell”).
III). Read 4:1-3
A). I believe that we’re all familiar with the concept that there a war going on inside us.
• We struggle to be good, to do right, to control our tongue, to pray more.
• All these things, and hundreds others, are evidence of the internal struggle that we go through most every day.
B). James calls us to seriously examine ourselves:
• Why do I find it so hard to pray or read my Bible?
• What is it that makes me so angry?
• Why am I so quick to argue, or fight, even about things so insignificant?
• Why don’t I feel the presence of God in my life more often?
C). Yes, there is a war going on inside us: Some visible, some invisible, but God knows them all.
• James 4:3 tells us that the problem is ourselves!
• We ask and we don’t receive because what we ask for we want to spend on our own selfish pleasures.
D). So what do we do?
• In the last verse of chapter 3, James writes that we have to sow seeds of peace & righteousness.