Summary: Godly wisdom overcomes sin, strife, and stubbornness.
Would you take your Bibles please, and turn tonight in the book of James, chapter 3? James continues to speak to us. James, what a great man he was. Let us hear his words of wisdom for those of us tonight, as we think on the subject of wisdom, and try to determine whether or not you are wise or otherwise. James chapter 3 and verse 13: “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?” (James 3:13). You can almost hear James, as he’s standing in the assembly and saying, “Say, I want to ask a question. How many of you are wise?” And, some of the teachers there would sit up straight because he’s talking to teachers. They would sit up straight, and with a smirk on their face, they’d lift their hands, and as if to say, “Well, I’m pretty wise.” And, then James would say, “All right, show me, just how wise you are.” For James didn’t want a say-so salvation or a say-so wisdom, James wanted a know-so and a show-so salvation, and a know-so and a show-so wisdom.
And, so James goes here to delineate and speak about wisdom. He says, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation”—that word conversation means behavior—“his works with meekness of wisdom But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:13–18).
I. The Value of Wisdom
Three things we’ll notice tonight in this little study. First of all, I want you to see the value of wisdom. Then I want you to see the virtues of wisdom. And, then I want you to see the victory of wisdom.
First of all: the value of wisdom. Now, James places a great value upon wisdom. James doesn’t say who is a rich man among you, or who is an educated man among you, or who is a popular among you, or who is a busy or ambitious man among you. But, James, looking for a leader in the church says, “Who is a wise man among you.” And, James like all of the writers of the Bible, puts a great, great, premium upon wisdom. Wisdom is greater, ladies and gentlemen, than monetary power.
Let’s just leave the book of James for a moment, and go to the book of wisdom, the book of Proverbs. And, let’s see what Proverbs has to say about wisdom. Proverbs, chapter 3, for a moment. Just lick your fingers and go there with me, will you? All right, Proverbs chapter 3 and let’s begin reading in verse 14. Well, let’s get verse 13: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her”—that is unto wisdom—“Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:13–17). Now, James is saying—excuse me, Solomon is saying here that wisdom is greater than riches, and wisdom power is greater than monetary power.
I was interested to note in the newspaper today that they moved several billion dollars from one bank to another, seven point five billion dollars. And, when they did, according to this newspaper article, they had 100, an army of 100 policeman, and guards, and all of these with their machine guns, and their tear gas, and all forms, all manner of electronic communications, to move 7.5 billion dollars from one point to another because, of course, everybody wants money, don’t they? I wonder if they had a truckload of wisdom going down the street. How many policeman they would have had to guard it. I wonder how many people would have said, “That’s what I need, that’s what I want more than silver, more than gold, more than rubies, I want wisdom.”
It’ll be a great day in your life when you begin to seek after wisdom as you seek after wisdom. That’s what the writer of the book of Proverbs is saying, “That wisdom is greater than monetary power,” and then the Bible teaches that wisdom is greater than military power.