Summary: Introduction 1.
1. The last 2 weeks and the next 8 weeks will be a busy time for me. I am involved in a number of committees. I am involved in finding a replacement for the RSC’s office administrator. And as President of the RS I need to prepare for our annual general meeting in April. I'm on a committee to make plan for Camp Shalom - over next few months. On a restructuring committee for the RCA.
2. I appreciate the consistory’s allowing me to be involved. And I believe I am still fulfilling my obligations to the most important aspect to my working - being your pastor.
3. One reason I a m as involved as I am is my business and accounting background and my administrative gifts. Some have even said that I have much wisdom in these areas. Not to make myself seem better, for all of us have abilities and gifts in different areas.
4. But as I look at myself, I ask "Am I as wise as some think I am?" To be honest, it is easy at times to get puffed up and think of myself as wise. That is why I need to listen to what James says to me, to us, this evening.
5. For wisdom is not what we think it might be. And as I look at what it is, I have to admit, that I often lack wisdom.
6. Are you wise? Do others consider who a person with wisdom? Wisdom is a mark of a mature Christian. Let us see if we are wise.
1. James asks if there is anyone who is wise and understanding among them. The word for wise "sophos" was a technical term among Jews for the teacher, the scribe or the teacher. Perhaps James is still talking about those who would be teachers. And the word for understanding describes a person who is an expert, who has special knowledge or training.
2. In both cases, they reflect the Hebrew idea that wisdom is to be practical rather than theoretical. Not so much what we know but how we apply that knowledge in our lives.
3. James gives us a test which enables us to determine if we are wise and understanding.
a. The first part of the test is this: Are we living a good life? Today we think of the good life as a prosperous life that is filled with joy and pleasure. We work to obtain more and to be able to relax and enjoy things with friends and family, but that is not teh good life that James is talking about. The good life is a life of wisdom. In other words we should have the knowhow of applying the teaching of God in our every day living. In our conduct, in our manner of living. Wisdom is not what we know but how we live. And this means the "deeds" that we do, Our conduct and our behaviour. The way we act toward others and the way we respond to circumstances. The good things we do to help others and the way we serve God. Well, most of us would probably be able to pass this first part of the test.
b. But there is a second part. It is not just doing the deeds, but how the deeds are done. The motivation behind them or the attitude that accompanies our behaviour. The good life or deeds only reveal true wisdom when they are done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
i. This humility might better be translated as gentleness. Not a passive gentleness that comes from weakness but rather as an active attitude of deliberate acceptance. The word was used to describe a horse that had been broken and trained to submit to the bridle. This gentleness could be described as "strength under control, under the control of the Holy Spirit.
ii.And when I think of this test of wisdom, I start to see how I do lack wisdom. When I become impatient or when I argue for my way because I know it is right. I pray that God would make me more gentle.
iii.What about you? You may do many good deed and show good conduct, but are they done with gentleness? Are they done under the control of the Holy Spirit or are they done for human, fleshly reasons. We do not act in gentleness when we harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition. And I see much of this in the church of Jesus Christ, including myself. We may serve the Lord, even in caring for the poor and those in need. But if they do not show gratitude or if someone disagrees with the way we think things should be done, we get upset. We prefer to work on our own rather than as part of a team. We are sensitive to how people respond to us. We want some recognition for the good we do. These things show that we are not fully controlled by the Holy Spirit.