Summary: To note that true wisdom is from above.

“Wisdom from Above”

Text: James 3.13-18

Thesis: To note that true wisdom is from above.


(1) We live in an age of knowledge.

(a) Many people are furthering their education.

(b) Nevertheless, knowledge does not equal wisdom.

i. Knowledge – accumulation of facts

ii. Wisdom – the ability to use those facts responsibly

(2) Beginning with verse 13, James moves from dealing with speech to practical living.

(3) James begins this section by basically saying that one’s deeds will prove whether one is truly wise.

(4) He then contrasts 2 types of wisdom:


I. Earthly Wisdom (vv. 14-16):

A. Characteristics –

1. “Bitter Jealously” – “Man has dethroned God in his life and enthroned himself” (Roper 71).

2. “Selfish Ambition” – “Speaks of a self-seeking attitude bent on gaining advantage and prestige for oneself or one’s group” (EBC 190).

3. “Arrogant” – “To boast of one’s affairs to the hurt of another” (Woods).

4. “Lie against the Truth”

Therefore, it is:

1. Earthly

2. Natural (i.e., unspiritual)

3. Demonic – of the devil

B. Results –

1. Disorder

2. Every evil thing – I.e., worthless activity, “deeds that are bad because they are good for nothing and cannot produce any real benefit” (Trench 305-06).

II. Heavenly Wisdom (vv. 17-18):

A. Characteristics –

1. “Pure” (i.e., unmixed)

a. Motive b. Life c. Doctrine d. Speech

2. “Peaceable” – “One that helps heal relationships rather than tear them apart” (Swindoll 127).

3. “Gentle” – In LXX, refers to God’s dealing with us

4. “Reasonable” – “A person is not so inflexible and unheeding that he can’t yield to someone else” (Shelly 73).

5. “Full of mercy and good fruits” – “The capacity to be moved by the needs of others” (Roper 75).

6. “Unwavering” (i.e., consistent) – A “person who knows what he believes, knows why he believes it, and who lives in a manner consistent with those beliefs” (Roper 75).

7. “Without hypocrisy” (i.e., sincere) – “It does not put on disguises in order to conceal aims or motives that are unworthy” (Shelly 74).

B. Results –



(1) In order to get the proper result, one needs the proper growing conditions:

(a) Going to the right source

- God is the source of wisdom (Prov. 2.6)

- Fear of the Lord is the beginning (Psa. 111.10)

(b) Developing the right qualities of life

(c) Aiming for the right result (Roper)

(2) “The test of wisdom is a life that is patterned after the truth and is under control”

(Swindoll 119).

(3) Will you come to God and be wise?

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