Summary: Like faith, true wisdom is seen in our actions.


Text: James 3:13-18


1. Illustration: Have you ever heard the phrase, "Out of the mouth of babes?" Certainly you have. It comes from the simple truth that sometimes it takes a child to reveal lasting wisdom. It seems foolish but it isn’t!

For example:

· Patrick, age 10, said, "Never trust a dog to watch your food."

· Michael, 14, said, "When your dad is mad and asks you, "Do I look stupid?" don’t answer him."

· Michael, wise man that he was also said, "Never tell your mom her diet’s not working."

· Randy, 9 years of age said, "Stay away from prunes." One wonders how he discovered that bit of wisdom.

· Naomi, 15 said, "If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse."

· Lauren, age 9 said, "Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick."

· Joel, 10 years old, said, "Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat." and

· Eileen, age 8 said, "Never try to baptize a cat."

2. Wisdom can best be understood by the single words what and how. Wisdom means knowing what something is, what is behind something, and what can be done. It is knowing how to use or relate to something (Practical Word Studies in The New Testament, 2312).

3. James tells us that there are basically two kinds of wisdom...

A. False Wisdom

B. Genuine Wisdom

4. Let's stand together as we read James 3:13-18.

Proposition: Like faith, true wisdom is seen in our actions.

Transition: First let's take a look at...

I. FALSE WISDOM (14-16).

A. Jealousy And Selfish Ambition

1. Just as there is true and false humility, there is also true and false wisdom. So we are first going to look at false wisdom.

2. In v. 14 James says, "But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying."

A. Being bitterly jealous is misguided zeal that results in disagreeableness. It is anger at the accomplishments of others.

B. Whenever we find fault with a leader, we must ask ourselves what is motivating us to feel strongly about that person’s failure.

i. Do we actually share the same weakness? Do we imagine ourselves doing better in that role?

ii. Or are we, in fact, simply envious of the abilities or success God has allowed him or her to have?

iii. A positive answer to any of these ought to make us very careful in how we express our criticisms.

C. Here and in Philippians 2:3, selfish ambition refers to leaders in the church who are developing a “party spirit.”

D. This produces factions who are for or against the pastor or certain programs, who take sides on issues not necessarily central to the Christian faith.

E. Selfish ambition is the desire to live for one’s self and no one or nothing else, only for what a person can get out of it.

F. In an attempt to persuade others, the person may lose his sense of reason and become fanatical.

G. Having confidence in only his knowledge, he arrogantly lords it over others.

H. Such a person should not brag about being wise for that is the worst kind of lie (Barton, 1083).

3. James then conitunes this line of thought in v. 15, where he says, "For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic."

A. The source and standards of this kind of wisdom are from the world and not God.

B. Its teachers are self-centered and shallow. This wisdom doesn’t come from faith—it is earthly and unspiritual.

C. “Unspiritual” could refer to the natural man. The term for unspiritual is used in the New Testament for the person who does not have God’s Spirit (3:15), or does not accept the guidance that comes from the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).

D. This person teaches only the wisdom of this life, based on human feelings and human reasoning alone.

E. The real source of these thoughts is the Devil whose purposes are always destructive; they can produce a climate in the church, at home, and at work that damages relationships.

F. Think of how quickly our words, language, and tone of voice can create a destructive climate (Barton, 1084).

4. Then James shows the destructive nature of this kind of wisdom. In v. 16 he says, "For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind."

A. People filled with jealousy and selfish ambition think they must be first in everything.

B. They cannot stand to see anyone else in the limelight, or have anyone else cast a shadow on what they do.

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