Summary: "For Dummies" books are a raging success! Why? Full of practical wisdom and simple "How To's" Wouldn't a "Christianity for Dummies," a book full of practical wisdom & simple How Tos on how to live out our faith, be great? James & this series is JUST THAT
Christianity For Dummies: The Wise and The Otherwise
A. Have you ever stopped to consider some of the profound questions in the Bible? Pontius Pilate - "What is truth?" Jesus - "Who do men say that I the Son of Man am?" God to Solomon in a dream - "What do you want? Ask and I will give it to you!"
B. Kids, teens, twentysomethings - imagine just as He did with Solomon, God came to you in a dream tonight and said, "Christmas is in 52 days. What do you want? Ask and I will give it to you!" What would you say? Adults, grown kids - I want to pose that same profound question to you this AM - what would you ask for if the Lord of heaven and earth offered you anything you asked for?
C. As we reflect on our answer, we would do well to reflect on Scripture. How did Solomon answer? Read 1 Kings 3:7-13. Wisdom?! Anything at all and he wants Wisdom?! Proverbs 3:13-17 (NLT) says: "Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying." Having gained the world's riches throughout his life, Solomon understood the value of wisdom. Do we? How much would a wheelbarrow full of wisdom go for on Ebay? Would we even bid on it or do we think we are already wise enough?
D. 1000 years after the Son of David asked for wisdom from God to accomplish his calling, another descendant of David named James wrote an entire epistle on Wisdom, first saying this - read James 1:5. You see we don't have to place a bid on Ebay for wisdom, all we have to do is ask our Heavenly Father! My fear is we don't see the value of wisdom or we are fooling ourselves - we think we are plenty wise and yet are operating on man's wisdom, False Wisdom, not on God's wisdom, True Wisdom. James straight out of the gate in 3:13 challenges this mentality and asks another profound question - "Who is wise and understanding among you?" He's going to paint two pictures with a palate of colorful words. As he does, we will see a contrast between The Wise, someone who has received the wisdom from above, and the Otherwise, someone who lacks God's wisdom. In each case, James outlines the Roots, Attributes and Fruits of The Wise and the Otherwise. Our goal is going to be to allow God's Word to convict us which picture represents you, represents me; and then as James has done the whole time, to challenge us to do something about it (transform us) - to be doers not just hearers!
II. Scripture Reading & Prayer
A. Read James 3:13-18.
B. Pray - Father, help us like Solomon to see the true value of wisdom. We praise you for your free offer of wisdom and that all we have to do to claim it is to ask. Convict us now through your Word if we are The Wise or The Otherwise and then empower us to do something about it that we may live a life that glorifies you.
III. James' Challenge: Who Is Wise?
A. James first order of business as I have already alluded to is to challenge this mentality that we've got it all together and are plenty smart! Read and explain James 3:13a.
- This word wise in the Greek is "sophos"; it does not necessarily mean brilliant, high IQ or book smarts but rather the ability to apply with skill what one knows. In the NT, it means applying spiritual truth in one's life. Likewise, the word understanding, used only here in the NT, means a professional who could skillfully apply his expertise to practical situations. James is asking who is truly skilled in the art of living. Are you smart? Are you WISE?
- Illustration: A minister, a Boy Scout, and a computer expert were the only passengers on a small plane. The pilot came back to the cabin and said that the plane was going down but there were only three parachutes and four people. The pilot added, “I should have one of the parachutes because I have a wife and three small children.” So he took one and jumped.The computer whiz said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and everyone needs me.” So he took one and jumped.The minister turned to the Boy Scout and with a sad smile said, “You are young and I have lived a rich life, so you take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.”The boy Scout said, “Relax, Reverend, the smartest man in the world just picked up my knapsack and jumped out."