Summary: James shows us that we can live the full life Jesus has promised by recognizing and correcting the unwise choices we may have made in life.
“Live well, live wisely”
James 3:13 - 4:10
Date: 18th April 2004
Most people want to live a safe, secure and prosperous life. And this is one thing that Jesus promises to give us when we follow him.
“….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
But the danger is, even if we are followers of Jesus, we can forfeit this full life. And one way we can forfeit the full life is by making unwise choices.
But on the other hand, we can all live well if we live wisely. And the good news is that the Lord wants you and I to know how to do this. In James 3 the Lord gives us direction that will help us to recognize the unwise choices we may have made and then he shows us the wise way to correct them.
1. DODGE DANGEROUS WISDOM (3:14-16 and 18; 4:1-3)
Here James identifies three sources of dangerous wisdom (v15).
The earth, i.e. the world around us (human knowledge).
If we want to live well, we must live wise. Knowledge is very different to wisdom and we must be careful not to confuse them.
The flesh – or that which is not spiritual.
If we want to live well, we must live wise – and this means turning from this sinful human nature and following more closely the Spirit of God.
(See Romans 1:18-25).
If we want to live well, we must live wise – and this means dodging the devil’s deceptions – wising up to his imitations of God, or those things that take the place God should have in our lives.
The evidence of dangerous wisdom
“Bitter envy and selfish ambition” (v14). Whenever we detect self-promotion in ourselves or in others, we should beware because this is the fruit of dangerous wisdom.
“Boasting” (v14). If there is a lack of humility and submission we should beware because boasting is the fruit of dangerous wisdom.
“Denial of the truth” (v14). Boasting usually incorporates lies. If we, or someone else are painting a picture better or worse than it actually is – beware because denial of the truth is the fruit of dangerous wisdom.
So if we want to live well, we must live wise. If we sense “bitter envy,” “selfish ambition” or “denial of the truth” in our own hearts, then we’re in no condition spiritually to make wise or godly choices – and we won’t live well.
But there is a better way.
2. PURSUE POSITIVE WISDOM (3:13 and 17-18)
In vv 17-18 the Lord makes the point that we can all live well if we live wise by pursuing positive wisdom.
The source of positive wisdom.
There is only one source of positive wisdom – heaven (v17 See also 1 Cor 1:24 and 30; Colossians 2:3; 2 Tim 3:15; James 1:5; Ephesians 1:17).
And just like dangerous wisdom, we can recognize positive wisdom by its fruit.
a. Pure - When we are confident that we are spotless before God – we can be sure to make wise choices - - - and we can live well.
b. Peace-loving and considerate - When we are confident that we are spotless before each other – we can be sure to make wise choices - - - and we can live well.
c. Submissive - A heart that is submissive to the will of God will make wise choices - - - and that person will live well.