Summary: In today’s text we have what some have called "God’s Wisdom Test." This is a kind of personal exam by which you can see how wise or otherwise you really are in all your relationships. James lists 6 distinguishing marks of wise person.
Robert Fulghum wrote a book titled "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." Listen to what he wrote:
Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:
*Don’t hit people.
*Put things back where you found them.
*Clean up your own mess.
*Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
*Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
*Wash your hands before you eat.
*Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
*Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
*Take a nap every afternoon.
*When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Fulghum has written a book of common sense wisdom. It is interesting reading, so far as it goes. However, in order to learn about the wisdom that comes from heaven, we need to go to God’s word. So, with that in mind, let’s read James 3:17-18:
"17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:17-18)
Some time ago I came across the following poem:
My dad gave me a 1 dollar bill,
’Cause I’m his smartest son!
And I swapped it for 2 shiny quarters,
’Cause 2 is more than 1!
And then I took the quarters,
And traded them to Lou,
For 3 dimes (I guess he didn’t know),
That 3 is more than 2.
Just then along came old blind Bates,
And just ’cause he can’t see,
He gave me 4 nickels for my 3 dimes,
And 4 is more than 3.
And I took the nickels to Mr. Coombs,
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me 5 pennies for them,
And 5 is more than 4.
And then I went and showed my dad,
And he got all red in the cheeks,
And closed his eyes and shook his head,
Too proud of me to speak!
Sometimes we are not as smart as we think we are. There is an old Persian proverb about wisdom that at first sounds more like a tongue twister than sound advice. But if you listen carefully, you’ll hear its ring of truth:
He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not
is a fool; shun him.
He who knows not, and knows that he knows not
is a child; teach him.
He who knows, and knows not that he knows
is asleep; wake him.
He who knows, and knows that he knows
is wise; follow him.
All of these types of people can be found today. Now, of course, they don’t wear badges or introduce themselves as fools.
No-one will walk up to you and say, “Hi, my name is Bob. I’m a fool.” The last thing he wants you to know is that “he knows not that he knows not.”
Last week we saw how rare and valuable this trait of wisdom is. We saw that when God told Solomon he could ask for anything in the world and it would be granted, Solomon responded by asking for wisdom. To have true wisdom is to have something very valuable.
We also saw that wisdom is primarily a lifestyle. That is, wisdom is shown primarily by the way you relate to people. It’s a practical use of knowledge; it has more to do with your works than your words. It has to do with your lifestyle rather than your lips. It’s something that you do; it’s your character and your relationships, not your intelligence and your education.
When James says in verse 16 that a lack of wisdom causes “disorder,” he is talking primarily about horizontal disorder—or problems with people. When I am unwise with my wife, it causes problems. When I am unwise with my children, it causes problems. When I am unwise with people at work, it causes problems. Every day of your life, whether you like it or not, you encounter people. And people are notorious for being hard to get along with. That’s why we must learn how to relate wisely to others.
In James 3:18 we read, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James is making the point that what you sow in your relationships is what you will reap! And in every relationship you have, you are either sowing seeds of disorder, seeds of anger, seeds of mistrust, seeds of conflict—or seeds of peace that will result in a harvest of righteousness.