Summary: The effects of Godly wisdom on our lives as opposed to living by worldly wisdom.
James: Religion That Works
“The Wisdom Effect”
March 26, 2006
What is wisdom? Is it knowledge? Is it maturity? Is it simply old age? If you ask different people about what wisdom is, you are guaranteed to get different answers.
“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.” Immanuel Kant
“It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and say the opposite.” Sam Levenson
“The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.” Cicero
Wisdom has amazing benefits in our lives. However, the key is choosing to be wise in the right things. You can be wise in the wrong things and it does no good. But wisdom that comes from God makes all the difference in our lives.
Today we want to look at James writing to Christians about the effect of Godly wisdom on their lives. We need to remember the context in which James is writing. He has just addressed the leaders of the persecuted church and is reminding them that their words matter. Now, he goes into a teaching about the source of the words and the character of the heart.
I. Your Actions Reflect Your Belief
James has over and over again in the letter told his readers that the most important thing they can have is a connection between their heart and their actions. He makes it very clear that action in our lives is a reflection of the belief in our heart.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13 (NIV)
James notes that the way you show the guiding influence of your life is by the actions of your life.
Actions are the reflection of the heart.
When James talks about the “good life,” he is not talking about prosperity but moral goodness.
Wisdom is not something to be possessed in the brain, but it is to be demonstrated in our conduct.
James says that the way we show a good life is through the deeds of our lives.
James notes that the result of Godly wisdom in our lives is humility.
Humility is a personal quality where an individual shows dependence on God and respect for others.
A truly humble life is modeled after the life of Jesus. Jesus spoke often of humility.
"You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” Matthew 5:5 (The Message)
Jesus calls people who enter his kingdom to come humbly.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 (NIV)
Jesus invites people to come and learn from him specifically because he is humble and gentle.
Two keys to humility:
1) A willingness to hear the Word of God.
“A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3 (God’s Word)
We must be willing to hear the true word of God and not “Hallmark Theology.”
2) A willingness to do the Word of God.
“Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.” Romans 2:13 (The Message)
Godly Wisdom= Knowing what’s right and doing what’s right, even when it’s hard.
II. Your Beliefs Reveal Your Heart
It is possible to do all the right things and still have a heart that is not humble before God. James notes that the wisdom of this world is revealed in stark contrast to the wisdom of God.
“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:14-16 (NIV)
You can do all the right things, but if your motivation is self-driven instead of God-driven you will not be pleasing God.
The root of “worldly wisdom” is pride.
All of the ways that James describes wisdom of this world revolve around pride.
God hates human pride.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2 (NIV)
Remember that James is writing to Christians and specifically to those who are in leadership in the church. His warning is that spiritual arrogance can take over our lives and can become a hindrance to the message of the gospel.