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.
• Those things come only from God, through his Holy Spirit…obtained by the pursuit of wisdom from above…wisdom that is "pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy."
• Why do we do those things we do? How do we stop that war within us? Use wisdom…not the wisdom of the world, but the wisdom that comes from God..the wisdom that bears the fruit of righteousness!