Summary: Today we get to the topic of wisdom. And of all the topics he has discussed, wisdom could be the most important stimulus for spiritual growth. In other words if you plan to grow in the faith it will not happen if you do not first get wisdom.
Wise guys finish First”
If you had the chance to ask for whatever you wanted, what would it be? The OT gives us the story of a man named Solomon. We find the record that Solomon showed his love for God by walking according to God’s law. God rewarded him by coming to him in a dream with a profound statement. And here is what God said to him. “Ask for whatever you want me to give you and I will.” And Solomon said, “give me wisdom; give me a heart that can discern right from wrong so that I can lead the people. But it gets better. The Lord was pleased that this is what Solomon asked for so listen to what God says to him… “I will do what you have asked, I will give you a wise heart so that there will never have been anyone like you nor will there ever be. And on top of that since you did not ask for honor and riches, I will give you that also.” Not a bad deal.
A blonde, a brunette and a redhead are stuck on an island. One day, the three of them are walking along the beach and they discover a magic lamp. They rub it and sure enough, out pops a genie. The genie says, "Since I can only grant three wishes, you may EACH have one." The brunette says, "I've been stuck here for years. I miss my family. I just want to go home." POOF! The brunette gets her wish and she is returned to her family.
Then, the red head says, "I've been stuck here for years as well. I miss my family too. I wish I could go home too."
POOF! The redhead gets her wish and she is returned to her family. The blonde starts crying uncontrollably. The genie asks, "My dear, what's the matter?" The blonde says I really miss my friends now, "I WISH my friends were still here. POOF! They were back.
James asks us a very important question in this passage… here it is… who is wise and understanding among you?
We have at our disposal today more knowledge than at any time in history. More information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the previous 5000 years. Today information doubles every 4 years. We have plenty of information… we are more educated… but there is still a shortage of wisdom, especially when it comes to the kind of choices we make in life.
Think about it. How do you make choices? Many of our choices are simple, they certainly don’t change our lives…will I order the fish or the chicken? Will I order the chocolate pie or the pecan pie? Or will I say no. Then there are choices that are much bigger. Where will I live? What will I choose to work at for the rest of my life? What house will I buy? Who will I marry? Will we have kids? These are life changing.
I have always found it interesting that professional athletes still have personal coaches and trainers. The trainers make far less money than the athlete but the athlete knows he/she needs their wisdom. But wisdom is a funny thing. It’s hard to nail down. According to Webster, wisdom is “the ability, developed through experience to be able to discern truth and to exercise good judgment. I think the key word there is discernment.” To be able to discern things.
James says, “13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. "
Throughout the letter of James, he tells us a lot about how to live a faith that is mature. A growing faith. He talks about trials and then compares them, to temptations. He tells us the importance of acting on what God says. It is not enough to listen. We must act. He says don’t show favoritism in the church. Treat everyone the same. He says we have to be very careful with our speech. We must learn to control our words.
And then today we get to the topic of wisdom. And of all the topics he has discussed, wisdom could be the most important stimulus for spiritual growth. In other words if you plan to grow in the faith it will not happen if you do not first get wisdom. The reason is simple. Without it you and I will continue to make poor choices. Proverbs says this, “getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do.” Period.