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Summary: The truly wise seeks after God’s wisdom.


Text: James 3:13-18


1. Read James 3:13-18

2. An angel appears at a faculty meeting and tells the dean that in return for his unselfish and exemplary behavior, the Lord will reward him with his choice of infinite wealth, wisdom or beauty. Without hesitating, the dean selects infinite wisdom.

"Done!" says the angel, and disappears in a cloud of smoke and a bolt of lightning. Now, all heads turn toward the dean, who sits surrounded by a faint halo of light. At length, one of his colleagues whispers, "Say something."

The dean looks at them and says, "I should have taken the money."

Betsy Devine and Joel E. Cohen, Absolute Zero Gravity, Simon & Schuster.

3. Everybody desires wisdom. When God asked Solomon what he desired of all the things in the world, Solomon chose wisdom.

4. Wisdom is not what you know, but what you do with what you know.

Proposition: James tells us there are two kinds of wisdom, but the truly wise seeks after God’s wisdom.

Transition: First he tells us to...

I. We Show Our Wisdom by Our Behavior (13)

A. Who Is Wise

1. James begins by saying "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?"

a. The word "wise" was the technical term among the Jews for the teacher, the scribe, the rabbi (TDNT, 7:505).

b. The term "endued with undertanding" describes one who is expert, who has special knowledge or training. - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM

c. In other word, he is talking about someone who is claims to know what’s going on.

2. If you claim to be wise and know what’s going on "let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom."

a. The KJV term "conversation" is not to be restricted to speech. In 1611 it possessed the much broader meaning of "conduct," "manner of life." - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM

b. It’s not just talking about what you say, but also what you do.

c. Have you ever known anyone who claimed to be wise but who acted foolishly? True wisdom can be measured by the depth of a person’s character.

d. Just as you can identify a tree by the type of fruit it produces, you can evaluate your wisdom by the way you act. —Life Application Bible Notes

3. He says to show that you are a wise person by living out a life of meekness that comes from wisdom.

a. When we talk about meekness, we are not talking about weakness, but strength under control.

b. The word was used to describe a horse that had been broken and trained to submit to the bridle (William Barclay, New Testament Words [London: SC M, 1971], pp.241-42).

c. We are talking about a life that shows that it is under the control of the Holy Spirit. A life that not only displays the gifts of the Spirit, but also the fruit of the Spirit.

B. Let Your Wisdom Show

1. Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it. J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 80.

2. Again James tells us, as he has through this entire epistle, that the best way to tell someone what God has done in your life is to show them.

3. For some people they won’t listen to what you have say about Jesus until you show them you can live like Jesus.

4. 1 Pt. 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

5. People aren’t going to want to hear about the marvelous light until you show them you’re out of the darkness.

Transition: Not only does James tell us to let our wisdom show, but he also tell us...

II. We Should Stay Away From False Wisdom (14-16)

A. Bitter Envying and Strife

1. In verses 14-16 James tells us about false wisdom as opposed to true wisdom.

2. In verse 14 he says "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth."

a. Apparently some of James’s readers were harboring "bitter envy and selfish ambition" in their hearts. - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM

b. The opposite of the meekness of wisdom is bitter envy and selfish ambition.

c. If these things characterize us, though we may boast of our wisdom, our whole life is a denial of the truth revealed in Jesus.

3. Illustration: Dwight L. Moody once told the fable of an eagle who was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a sportsman with a bow and arrow and said to him, "I wish you would bring down that eagle up there." The man said he would if he had some feathers for his arrow. So the jealous eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival bird because he was flying too high. The first eagle pulled out another feather, then another--until he had lost so many that he himself couldn’t fly. The archer took advantage of the situation, turned around, and killed the helpless bird. Moody made this application: if you are envious of others, the one you will hurt the most by your actions will be yourself.

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