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God's Wisdom Rightly Displayed

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God intends that we display the wisdom that we have recieved so that righteiousness will multiply.

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If you have your Bibles, please open them to James 3:13
This week we are going to start a very short series (two weeks) on the wisdom of God.
This week and next week we are going to cover James 3:13-18
and tonight we are going to focus specifically on v 13; 17-18
and next week we will come back to this passage and look at v 14-16

God’s Wisdom Rightly Displayed

I want to illustrate this by comparing the wisdom of God to a precious work of art
Let’s say you were to receive a priceless piece of art.
The way you handle the art must be fitting with the value of the art.
A priceless artwork shouldn’t be hung on a refrigerator with magnets
It should be tacked to a wall
Or taped in a locker
No, it should be framed, in a frame that best shows off the piece of art
It should be framed to protect the art from damage
The piece of art should be displayed in a way that it can be seen and enjoyed.
not too high, where one could not appreciate the details
And not too low, where one would have to bend over to see it.
But at eye level
And it should be displayed with a light that is shining onto the picture so one may see the art clearly
There is certainly a right and a wrong way to display a precious work of art…
And if this is true of art, how much more should this apply to the way we displays the gospel that we have recieved?
This is what James is going to tell us… that the gospel, is to be displayed in a manor that is fitting with the message that is proclaimed.
Listen to the way James puts it:
James 3:13 ESV
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
Now if you were paying close attention you should notice this: the word “gospel” is nowhere in this passage.
James is specifically talking about those who have wisdom and understanding…
So before we talk about how we are to rightly display wisdom (which I have defined as the gospel)
We need to understand what James means when he talks about wisdom and understanding:
So let’s first work on understanding James means when he is talking about wisdom:

1) True wisdom comes from God.

Let’s look at the way other ways James talks about wisdom:
James 3:17 ESV
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
Wisdom is from above… That is to say, it is from God.
and you don’t see it there
Listen to how he as talked about wisdom earlier in his letter
James 1:5 ESV
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
James doesn’t tell that we receive wisdom from reading, or learning, or experience....
James says wisdom is given to us by God when we ask for it… he says wisdom comes from above!
Now let me show you how I connect the the idea of the wisdom that come from God with the gospel…
1 Corinthians 2:7 ESV
7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.
And what is that wisdom that is from God?
1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV
2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
or… it is the gospel, the message of good news of Jesus reconciling God and man through his life, death, and resurrection
even Jesus talks about this wisdom that is revealed by God and not by man…
In John 3 - where we have one of the clearest gospel passages Jn 3:16 when Jesus is telling Nicodemus that he must be born again, you remember that Nicodemus is confused as to what Jesus is talking about… and so Jesus responds:
John 3:9–10 ESV
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
James says, who is wise and understanding among you....
and here Nicodemus, a teacher in his day who would have been well learned, was not able to understand the simple gospel that Jesus was laying out for him…
why?
Because the wisdom of God that has been revealed in the gospel is not taught by man…
Rather, wisdom comes from above!
so if you lack wisdom
James 1:5 ESV
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

True wisdom (by which i mean, an understanding and knowledge of God and the gospel) comes from God.

James 3:13 ESV
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

2) Those who have recieved wisdom are to display that wisdom by good works in humility.

That’s what James says:
those who have wisdom and understanding (knowledge of the gospel)
Now display it in a fitting way, specifically
by your good conduct,
and
In the meekness of wisdom
We don’t even have to try to define what James means by “good conduct” and “the meekness of wisdom” because he tells us what these are in v 17-18
James 3:17 ESV
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
Now while we don’t have time to talk about what each of these words mean specifically during this time, (maybe you can talk about them more in SGs) we see what James is saying when he calls us to display the wisdom of God by good works and in humility
By good works… this is the way it is accomplished
in meekness… this describes the posture by which we are to display God’s wisdom
that posture of gentleness, lowly, and humble
and this is so counterintuitive… because normally knowledge doesn’t make a person humble or lowly… but knowledge makes a person proud and arrogant
Paul tells us that knowledge puffs up…
But this ought not to be true of the one who has recieved wisdom from God!
When one receives the wisdom and knowledge of the gospel that comes from, God we don’t become proud and arrogant, because in the gospel we have nothing to boast in other than boasting in the work of the Lord that he has done on our behalf…
And if you have this kind of wisdom… you will be grow in your humility…
and this leads us to the last point for tonight

3) When God’s wisdom is rightly displayed through us then righteousness is multiplied.

Listen to how James puts it
James 3:18 ESV
18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Here James shows us the result of what happens when the wisdom of God is rightly displayed…
and he uses a familiar illustration of planting and harvesting to further describe what happens when one uses wisdom the way it was intended to be displayed…
He has already used this harvest analogy so let’s look at it
James 3:12 ESV
12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
So too, he is saying what you put into the ground, will come out of the ground…
Display the wisdom of God rightly,
that is with good works and meekness...
we see in v 18… sow peace…
and you will reap a harvest of righteousness.
And I want us to understand the sense of the word righteousness when James uses it here. Because he doesn’t use it the way Paul uses it.
When Paul talks about righteousness… he uses it to talk about Christ’s perfect obedience to God that is given as a gift to those who believe in him…
So Christ’s righteousness is imputed (or credited) to us
But that’s not what James is saying.
Rather he is talking about us growing in righteousness…
That is we grow in our likeness to Jesus
So when we rightly display the wisdom of God to those who we share the gospel with.
And in no way is James contradicting Paul.
In fact, Paul tell us very similarly in Galatians that is we sow to the Spirit, we will reap the fruit of the Spirit
And this is what James has been laboring to show…
True and genuine faith… is accompanied by the fruit of good works
And true and genuine wisdom… is accompanied by the fruit of gentleness which produces all kinds of fruits of righteousness.
Next week we will go into the difference between true wisdom and false wisdom, but for this week I want us to grasp what true wisdom is:
Small group questions:
Where does true wisdom come from, and if you lack it how can you receive it?
How do you know if you possess the wisdom from above?
If you have wisdom, what are you to do with it?
What is the effect of God’s wisdom when it is rightly displayed?
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