This topic is one that I spoke on about a year ago and in reading in James, it jumped back out at me.
Turn with me in your Bible this evening to the book of , and let’s read this passage,
This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings! Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 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. Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
The topic that we are going to zero in on and look at very briefly tonight, is found in verse 5 of this passage: WISDOM.
I actually like the rendering of this passage in the AMP Bible, as it reads verse 5 like this, “If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.”
THE WISDOM OF BABES Have you ever heard the phrase, “Out of the mouth of babes?” Certainly you have. It comes from the simple truth that sometimes it takes a child to reveal lasting wisdom. It seems foolish but it isn’t! For example: · Patrick, age 10, said, “Never trust a dog to watch your food.” · Michael, 14, said, “When your dad is mad and asks you, "Do I look stupid?" don’t answer him.” · Michael, wise man that he was also said, “Never tell your mom her diet’s not working.” · Randy, 9 years of age said, “Stay away from prunes.” One wonders how he discovered that bit of wisdom. · Kyoyo, age 9, said, “Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time.” · Naomi, 15 said, “If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse.” · Lauren, age 9 said, “Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick.” · Joel, 10 years old, said, “Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat.” · Eileen, age 8 said, “Never try to baptize a cat.”
The Amplified Bible. (1987). (). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
Knowledge is really about facts and ideas that we acquire through study, research, investigation, observation, or experience. Wisdom is the ability to discern and judge which aspects of that knowledge are true, right, lasting, and applicable to your life.
Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around.
You can be knowledgeable without wisdom, but you cannot be wise about something, without knowledge!
Just like we have offered and are getting ready to do another gun certification class from the church, taking the class helps to give you some knowledge about how to use a gun. You can read every book on that gun and shoot it 5 times per week, yet this is only the knowledge of the gun.
The wisdom of that same gun, is not knowing how to load, or fire, or clean the gun, but rather, the wisdom is knowing when to keep it holstered and when to draw it and use it!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
You cannot come to know the truth about who God is without first having a reverential fear of Him.
There are those who have a KNOWLEDGE about God and then there are those who truly KNOW God!
Those who have READ the Word of God, have a knowledge about God. BUT, those who have humbly submitted themselves to studying the word of God and pray and seek His face, they KNOW God!
The more that you learn from the Word of God, the more knowledge of Him and His ways and His will you begin to understand.
Then, as you develop this KNOWLEDGE and understanding of God, He begins to give to you the wisdom of knowing how to use that knowledge for serving the kingdom and for your spiritual health as well!
This whole book is spiritually nutritious for every believer! (It is what I refer to as the Christian buffet! It is all that you can eat!)
Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So, you read the word and you gain knowledge. Then, God equips us with the WISDOM of how to use that knowledge, right?! AMEN?!
There are a lot of Christians who wield the Sword of the Spirit, that is, they have a knowledge of the word, and yet they lack the WISDOM of how to use it.
Many people have used the word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, to cut others and cast judgement and/or condemnation upon that person. They took the scripture passages that they had a knowledge of either turned them to fit their own agenda, or they used them with expedient and harsh judgement upon another person’s fault or weakness!
Much in the same way, different denominations have taken the word and built whole beliefs structures off of a passage or passages and then enshrine themselves within this “KNOWLEDGE” that the they have and all the while leading others into a false understanding of the word.
There are two types of wisdom that exist, worldly wisdom and Godly wisdom.
Solomon, being the wisest of any man before his time and since, was full of wordly wisdom and yet, he forsook the greater wisdom which comes from drawing closer to God and filled his life with the things and pleasures of this world.
It was at the end of his life, that Solomon reflects back upon all that he had done and he gives us this summation of life, as found in ,
That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
There are many things that we do each and every day, decisions that we make for our lives, some basic, functional decisions, like what to eat, what to wear and what route to take on our destinations. And still, other decisions that we make are more impacting, like how to respond to another person’s hurtful accusations, or what to tell a family member who is struggling in their life, when we know that they are living in sin. These sort of decisions all have lasting impact and we should strive to use our knowledge of the Word in conjunction with Godly WISDOM!
Some decisions that we make and how we interact with people hit us a lot harder than others:
Too Much To Drink
A man was pulled over by a policeman and asked if he knew he was going too fast.
He said, ‘I’m sorry officer. I had my cruise control on and just forgot the speed limit changed.’ His wife said, ‘Harry, I told you two miles ago that you were speeding.’ Harry gives his wife a dirty look as the officer pulls out his ticket book.
‘By the way, sir, did you know that your left rear signal lens was broken?’ the policeman asks, to which Harry replies, ‘Oh wow, it must have just happened in the mall parking lot we just left.’ His wife again interrupts and says, ‘Harry, how can you sit there and lie to that nice policeman? I told you to fix that three weeks ago!’ Harry gives another look that could kill as the officer starts writing.
The policeman adds, ‘I am going to have to cite you for not wearing your seat belt, also.’ Harry says, ‘I just unbuckled as you came up to the car so I could get to my driver’s license if you needed it.’ The little lady pipes up, ‘Harry, you know good and well, I tell you all the time that you better buckle up, ’cause YOU NEVER WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT!’
Having taken all he can stand Harry turns to his tormentor and says with great exasperation, ‘Woman would you keep your big mouth shut!’
Now the officer looks at and addresses the little lady and asks, ‘does he verbally abuse you like this often, ma’am?’
Says she, ‘Oh no, only when he has had too much to drink.’
After John’s disciples left, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!” When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism. “To what can I compare the people of this generation?” Jesus asked. “How can I describe them? They are like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t weep.’ For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.”
In this account, we see the two types of wisdom being displayed. Jesus, in His defense of the John the Baptist, mentions of John being exactly what God sent him to be. The passage shows that those who had heard and received the message of John were baptized and thus saw the justice of God, in that they were convicted by the message and brought to repentance through their baptism.
Yet, the religious leaders rejected John and said that he had a demon and they said that Jesus was a drunkard and a friend of the tax collectors and sinners. All because they refused to repent and admit that their knowledge of the Word of God was wrong and that they were using it to justify and uphold their position and title with the people.
Jesus said in verse 35, “ But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it”, meaning that the wisdom displayed by those who were repentant sinners, was true wisdom as they looked at the meaning of the message of John and Jesus and saw God behind both; however, the those who rejected John and Jesus, were children of this world and its beliefs.
John was an ascetic (someone who was strict and wouldn’t eat bread or drink wine, or bend to any luxury or comfort) and yet the religious leaders didn’t like him, because his message of repentance, was uncomfortable and so they said he had a demon!
Jesus was not the ascetic like John and thus He dined with the societal sinners and brought both sides of the spectrum together, the rich and the poor, and the wretched sinners. The religious leaders would have no part of associating with common sinners, so they wrote Jesus off as a drunkard and dismissed His message.
This is why Jesus said they were like children throwing a temper tantrum and yelling because they were not getting their way! This is NOT GODLY WISDOM!
You are a child of which ever side you lean towards: you’re a child of the world if you lean towards it’s thinking and logic and you are a child of God if you choose His message and His way!
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 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. 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.
This passage in James shows us what we just saw in the account in Luke. Your conduct will show what wisdom you possess. If your conduct has bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, if it has boastfulness (pride) and deception (lying), then this is worldly and demonic!
This is what the religious leaders were showing.
If your actions show peace and and gentleness and forgiving and non-judging and humility, then you are operating from Godly wisdom!
NOTE: In verse 17 James says that the wisdom from above is first, PURE, PEACEABLE and GENTLE. These are the building blocks of the very thing that James faults the church for not having in opening of the next chapter in verse 1, where he asks about their quarrelling and conflict (i.e. no unity!)
Godly wisdom being shown in the church body will bring UNITY to the body!
Note what Jesus said of Himself if we would come to Him, in ,
When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “ ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus’ actions showed peace, humility, love and comfort! This is GODLY wisdom through and through.
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
And then verse 30, “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.”
Do you see what Paul is saying? The Cross is the where all true power and wisdom meet!
If you want to know if your life and actions show true Godly WISDOM, then use the litmus paper of the cross upon your works, your thoughts, your intents and motives and see if they align with cross and the gospel message!
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
One more passage on this and I’ll close out. Look in the next chapter, ,
When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.
Well, God used the cross and the perfect works of Jesus on the c
The Cross of Calvary is the standard for measuring true Godly wisdom! It is because of the cross and the finished work of the resurrection, that we now have the empowering presence of Holy Spirit, who imparts to us the greater wisdom from above, as we ask and seek God for this!
Whenever you see or hear a man or woman preaching/teaching to you and they declare that it is the word of God, then it had better, at some point show the cross, because it was at the cross that earthly wisdom was forever defeated and the power and the mystery of God was made known to all who would accept and believe it!
So, which do you choose for your life? Worldly or Godly wisdom?