Summary: Getting wisdom from God rather than the wisdom of the world.
The Principal Thing
Vonage has made a lot of money with a catchy theme song, Whew who, who, who, who, silly commercials, my favorite is the wife talking about switching to Vonage and the husband dancing in the next room. And a simple statement, “People do stupid things.”
In our study of James we are learning, Practical Christian Living. James now moves from words to wisdom. First James addressed the power of words, but even a lost person can at times control their tongue. So James contrasts the foolish wisdom of the world with Godly wisdom from above.
It is true that, “People do stupid things.” God however has a different plan. God gives wisdom to all how ask for it. God’s word tells us that the most important thing we can do in life is to seek this wisdom from above. Listen to what the Bible says, Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (KJV) God’s Word calls wisdom, “The Principal Thing.
The most precious things we can pursue is Godly wisdom. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:16, “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (KJV) Why is wisdom so important? Well I think we’d all agree this morning we have all don at least one stupid thing.
Wisdom by definition is, “The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight; common sense; good judgment, the sum of learning through the ages; knowledge.
Wisdom is not always linked with age, experience or education. 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 at you and asks, ‘Do I look stupid?’ don’t answer him.” Wise man that Michael, he also said, “Never tell your mom her diet isn’t working.”
There is a big difference between ungodly or worldly wisdom and Godly wisdom. Warren Buffett is the second richest man in the world. He is worth over 44 billion. In June of 2005, buffet decided to raise money for his charitable foundation, by offering an online auction in e-bay for someone to have lunch with him. The winning bid was $351,100—the price of access to the world’s second richest man.
If the value of worldly wisdom is that high for a lunch appointment; what price would we put on the wealth of wisdom we have right here in God’s Word? Let’s examine the contrast today of Godly wisdom and ungodly wisdom.
I. Godly Wisdom (13, 17-18) The Bible asks the question who is wise and understanding among you? Wise describes someone with moral insight and skill in the practical issues of life. Understand refers to one who is an intellectual and comprehends the world of science.
The Bible is defining the vast sum of wisdom and claiming how that wisdom will be demonstrated.
A. Shown in conduct (v.13a, 17) Godly wisdom is demonstrated in a life surrendered to God. This person does not have to boast about how wise they are, all will see it lived out in front of them.
Remember the Bible had earlier told us in James that anyone who was religious but didn’t keep a tight reign on their tongue their religion was worthless. We have also learned that to be a Christian is more than saying we are a Christian, we must Prove it by the life we live.
James now outlines how this is done. He says in v.13 that our good conduct our works, will be evidenced by seven traits found in v.17:
1. Pure—the word means clean or innocent. This is the wisdom that accomplishes good works with no false motives involved. It is person whose life is a testimony of pure character and honesty before God.
2. Peaceable—doesn’t mean a push-over. It is someone who strives to be at peace. One who remains calm under stress and has let go of anxiety.
3. Gentle—a person who is mild mannered and patient.
4. Willing to Yield—not one who is easily persuaded but one who can listen to all sides and is willing to do the right thing even if it isn’t their idea. They have a teachable spirit.
5. Full of Mercy and Good fruits—their life is a life of compassion and honesty. They are known by their forgiving spirit and their impeccable character.
6. without partiality—impartial. They do not take sides or involve themselves in frivolous arguments. They seek to be peacemakers.
7. without hypocrisy—they are genuine. What you see is what you get. They will not tell one person one thing or another something else.
This is how our conduct is supposed to be. We are to demonstrate these traits in our daily conversation our daily conduct should resemble Godliness.