Summary: Worldly wisdom brings disorder; heavenly wisdom brings peace.
The Wisdom of Being a Peacemaker
Rev. Brian Bill
How many of you watched “Fearless Felix” make a death-defying jump out of a balloon more than 24 miles above the earth last Sunday?
On his way down, he hit speeds of 844 miles per hour, shattering the sound barrier in the process. It took him just over nine minutes to land. After spinning out of control at the beginning of the jump, his landing was picture-perfect. Over the years, he has made over 2,500 jumps. He told reporters afterwards that this was his last one. After doing something like this, there’s probably not much more left to try.
I was struck by what he was thinking about before he jumped. Here’s what he said in an interview: “When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data. The only thing you want is to come back alive. Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are.”
While most of us will never have a chance to do what he did, nor would we want to, we can learn the same lesson. When we see how big God is, we can’t help but be humbled. It’s my prayer today that we’ll go up high so that we can see how small we really are.
Last week we learned how to be wise with our words because the tongue has the power to direct, to destroy and to delight. As a way to keep the preaching percolating in our lives, I wonder if anyone would like to share how you were able to put the message into practice this week. In what ways did you encourage someone? How did it feel when someone encouraged you?
The reason I wanted to begin by focusing on how we’re living the sermons is because that’s one of the main themes that Pastor James is teaching us in his letter. If we say we believe it, we better behave accordingly. Our affirmation of faith must be fleshed out in our actions.
We come to a question in James 3:13 that underlines this truth: “Who is wise and understanding among you?”
We have more knowledge at our fingertips today than ever before. A couple years ago Google CEO Eric Schmidt made this statement: “Every two days we now create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.” We’re literally living in a time when information is exploding and immediately accessible on our phones, tablets or computers.
But here’s a question. With all this knowledge and information, do you think we’re any wiser?
The Bible is all about us becoming wise and understanding. How many of you are reading a chapter of Proverbs every day? Proverbs 1:7 gives us the key that unlocks the way to wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” The main emphasis of the entire Bible is the fear of the Lord. In this verse we see that there are two classes of people: those who fear the Lord, and the fools who do not. The beginning of knowledge refers to its origin or principal part.
A fool is not just someone who is a couple bricks short of a load, or one whose elevator does not go to the top floor. A fool is not somebody who is a few fries short of a Happy Meal. In Proverbs, the fool is the one who doesn’t follow God’s ways. He’s the one who knows the right thing to do but instead does the opposite, or simply does nothing. 1:32 says that the “complacency of fools will destroy them.” In the New Testament, the contrast is between the believer and the unbeliever, the saved and the lost, those in the light and those who walk in darkness.
Wisdom doesn’t come just as part of getting older. We’ll get it when we go after it. As the saying goes, “We can only be young once, but we can be immature indefinitely.” Proverbs 4:7: “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”
What price are you willing to pay to get wisdom? What sacrifices are you willing to make? Proverbs 8:11: “For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”
You and I can become wise by following the admonition of James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Let’s look at the second half of James 3:13. Obviously, knowledge and education is not enough. And, it’s not enough to just claim to be wise or even to understand something. We must show it by how we live: “Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” To “show it” is an emphatic imperative and goes along with what James 2:18 says: “I will show you my faith by what I do.”