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Summary: 4th in a sermons series on James dealing with the characteristics of wisdom.

“A Word for the Wise”

Trials stand as the primary test to affirm the reality and stability of our trust in God. James addresses genuine faith’s response to trials in verse 2-18.

I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-18

A. Life Instruction #1 with Insight

B. Life instruction #2 with insights

C. Life Instruction #3 with insights

1. Instruction: Ask God for wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God

2. Insights

a. God gives without skimping or scolding to those asking

The One giving generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

b. God gives nothing to those doubting.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6-8

The one failing to trust God gets hammered and tossed like wind-tossed water. Doubters lose the ability to decide direction. They don’t know what to do because they have no anchor. Due to lack of genuine trust in God, they can’t decide whether to follow His council or the world’s advice. Those failing to trust God will not receive wisdom. Sometime God doesn’t answer because He knows we won’t do it if He did. Sometimes we know what to do but refuse to do it. Doubters easily get sidetracked and fooled by perspectives based on human reasoning. Feelings drive their decisions rather than truth. We need wisdom to face the various trials we encounter in a devil-driven world.

Paul identified two sources of that advise us how to live.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3

We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

We either live by the advice of this devil-directed and energized world or we live by God’s determined way of living for His children.

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24

James identified behavior driven by wisdom from above and wisdom from below.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:14-16

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. James 3:13 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18

Wisdom is the thought process which directs life’s choices and way of living. Satan suggests a thought process that produces a harvest of godless living. God prescribes a thought process that produces a harvest of right living.

There is man’s way of thinking and doing things which God calls foolish i.e. man’s wisdom.

There is God’s way of thinking and doing things which man calls foolish i.e. God’s wisdom.

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:20-24

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