Summary: If you want to demonstrate true wisdom in times of trial, don't boast; just behave with genuine humility.
Jean Crist, of Niagara Falls, New York, talks about a man in her town named Neal. He is a kind and loveable character that many consider to be quite simple minded. So, time after time, people in her town come up to him and offer him his choice of a dime or a nickel. He always takes the larger coin.
Finally, a bystander could bear this mockery no longer. He went up to Neal and said, “Don't let these people fool you any longer. The nickel may be larger, but the dime is worth twice as much money.”
“I know that,” Neal whispered to him, “but if I start taking the dimes, they'll stop offering me money!” (Jean Crist, Niagara Falls, NY, Christian Reader, “Lite Fare”; www.PreachingToday.com)
That simple-minded man turned out to be quite wise after all.
In difficult times, what you need most of all is wisdom from above, but How does that wisdom behave? How does it act? How does it operate in the midst of trial? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to James 3, James 3, where the Bible shows us how true wisdom acts in tough times.
James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (ESV)
Remember, James is speaking to those who want to be teachers (vs.1), and he tells them your words do not demonstrate real wisdom; your works do. It’s like the old saying, “More is caught than taught.” In other words, what you DO speaks much louder than what you SAY. So, if you want to demonstrate true wisdom in times of trial…
Show how wise you are not by your good WORDS, but by your good WORKS. Prove your wisdom through humble acts of service.
Most computer word processers use a typeface called Times New Roman. It's so common that we take it for granted, but this super-typeface has an interesting back story.
It all began with a complaint. In the 1920s, the esteemed type designer Stanley Morison criticized London's newspaper The Times for being out-of-touch with modern typographical trends. So The Times asked him to create something better. Morison took up the challenge. He enlisted the help of expert draftsman Victor Lardent and began conceptualizing a new typeface with two goals in mind: efficiency and readability. Morison wanted any printing in his typeface to be economical, a necessity in the newspaper business.
In 1926, The Times tested an early version of Morison's new type. After test upon test and proof upon proof, the final design was approved, and “The Times New Roman” typeface was born. In 1932, The Times specifically noted that their new typeface was not intended for books. But at 85 years old, Times New Roman is still going strong. (Meredith Mann, “Where Did Times New Roman Come From?” The New York Public Library, 12-9-14; www.PreachingToday.com)
Morrison went beyond criticism to a constructive solution, and that’s what truly wise people do. They demonstrate their wisdom through their works. You see, it’s easy to criticize the wrong in times of trial, but the truly wise person does the right; the truly wise person is part of the solution. So if you want to demonstrate true wisdom, just behave yourself, and…
Don’t brag about how smart you are. Don’t promote yourself to the detriment of others.
James 3:14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. (ESV)
Your boast is a lie if all you want to do is promote yourself.
The Greeks used the word for “selfish ambition” in Bible days to describe politicians, who sought only to promote themselves. They campaigned for political office not because they were interested in serving people, but only because they wanted the prestige and power of that office.
It seems that some things never change. Now, nearly 2,000 years later, many politicians still behave in the same way. They boast of many things. They make great promises, but all too often they fail to follow through on those promises. They’ll say anything to get elected, but their behavior in office often tells a different story.
Don’t be like those politicians. Don’t make promises you cannot keep. Don’t boast of great things only to disappoint those who believed in you.
James 3:15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. (ESV)
When you use your skills to promote yourself, you demonstrate a wisdom that comes from the world, the flesh and the devil. Such wisdom is NOT from heaven, but comes from hell and is very destructive.
James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (ESV)