Summary: What is true wisdom and which wisdom will we choose?
Which path will you choose?
The passage this morning talks about wisdom. When the Bible speaks about wisdom, it’s talking about much more than just head knowledge, memorizing a set of facts. When the Bible speaks about wisdom it is describing a way of living that brings success, peace and fulfillment. I think we all want those things, but the question is, what is real wisdom? There are many sources, many voices that promise, if we just follow their instruction, their advice, then we will get it all. Here’s some advice and wise sayings I found on the internet.
1. If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving isn’t for you.
2. He who laughs last thinks slowest.
3. Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.
4. Borrow money from a pessimist - they don’t expect it back.
5. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
6. When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane and going the wrong way.
7. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
8. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
9. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
10. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
In this passage there are two types of wisdom that are described and we have to choose between the two. The two choices are worldly wisdom and heavenly wisdom. Every one of us makes the decision of which type of wisdom, which way of life we will live. And the choice we make will have a huge impact on our lives today and on our eternal destiny. Which path will you choose?
The passage begins by asking the question, who is wise. Look at verse 13 (read verse). How do we know if a person is really wise? Somebody might seem wise, but they’re really not.
When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the speaker’s circuit, he usually found himself eagerly longing to get back to his laboratory work. One night as they were driving to yet another dinner speaking engagement, Einstein mentioned to his chauffeur (a man who somewhat resembled Einstein in looks & manner) that he was tired of speech making.
"I have and idea, boss," his chauffeur said. "I’ve heard you give this speech so many times. I’ll bet I could give it for you."
Einstein laughed loudly and said, "Why not? Let’s do it!"
When they arrived at the dinner, Einstein donned the chauffeur’s cap and jacket and sat in the back of the room. The chauffeur gave a beautiful rendition of Einstein’s speech and sat down.
Then a professor stood up and asked an extremely esoteric question about anti-matter formation.
Without missing a beat, the chauffeur said, "Sir, I don’t mean to insult you, but the answer to that question is so simple that I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back, answer it for me."
I don’t think that’s a true story by the way, but that chauffeur appeared to be wise, but he really wasn’t Einstein. How can we tell if a person is really wise? This verse tells us how. We know someone is wise when they live a life characterized by good deeds done in humility. What good deeds are we talking about? I think we can look at the previous three chapters of James to give us a good start at what a good life is like. A good life is a life lived with perseverance in the midst of trials, like is says in James 1:1-18. A good life is a life lived where the Word of God is living in us, like it describes in James 1:19-27. A good life is a life lived free from discrimination, as James 2:1-13 tells us. A good life is a life changed by a saving faith as it says in James 2:14-26. And a good life is a life where we have control of our tongues as we saw in James 3:1-12.
The theme of James is real faith leads to real action and this passage reflects that theme. Real wisdom is shown not be words, but by our lives. If a person is living a good life, then we know they are wise. Those are the kind of people you want to walk beside, get advice and counsel from and be mentored by. And being able to identify wise people is essential if we want to grow in wisdom because wisdom is more caught than taught. Can you think of someone like that maybe in the church, someone you could just hang around with and get wisdom from? When I was serving at my previous church, the senior pastor left for another church and I was the only pastor for a couple of years. I knew I needed help and there was a godly man, Keith Donald who served as an elder. He had served many years as a missionary in Zambia and as I got to know him I became more and more impressed by his spiritual discernment and practical wisdom. So I asked if he would like to meet on a weekly basis for breakfast so we could just talk. Those were very enriching times for me.