Wise and Understanding?
In today’s world, there is so much debate about right and wrong, not only in the the thought of physical actions, but opinions, thought processes, beliefs. It has gotten so crazy and divisive among people that sometimes even having a conversation with other Christians can be challenging.
Should it really be like that, if we, Christians, are children of God, having accepted the blood shed by Jesus Christ, if we have truly ‘put off the old man and put on the new” as Colossians says
Colossians 3:9-11 ESV
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
As Christians we are to :
Be renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Christ is all, and in all.
We should be renewed in the knowledge of Christ, and our lives should be representative of the knowledge we have learned through Christ. Which is exactly where our scripture in James takes us this morning.
As I was studying for this morning, I found where one pastor mentions the theme of James as Christian Maturity- James is also referred to as the Proverbs of the NT, helping us to live an authentic and wise life in the name of Christ. Which as we just read in Colossians should be our goal as Christians. So lets go to James 3
James 3:13-18 ESV
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.
Who is wise and understanding among you?
Now there is what some would call a loaded question!
And by our own definition who we chose as the wise and understanding one, may differ . If I ask everyone to write on a piece of paper 3 names of those you would say are ‘wise and understanding’; I would dare say all our list would look different. There may be a few similar names listed as we all have our circles of family and friends, but I would be completely surprised if there was one list that listed all 3 of the same people. That is to be expected, but thinking about the question from James 3:13, I wonder if we are using the same gauge; the ‘Christ” or ‘Bible’ gauge if you will, to decide who and what we are standing for and living for. Who we put as a role model, to help us be all we need to be in Christ, to help us to live a wise and understanding life.
James starts off with this question, and goes on to give us a guide. by saying we should know the wise and understanding ones ...
By his good conduct, let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
Wisdom and knowledge should be backed by our conduct and works from our life. I am sure we have all meet someone in our lives who thought they were so wise and knowledgeable on a topic or situation.
I have been in my field of work for almost 28 years, and I tend to use that experience, or wisdom and knowledge about the industry, to help me ‘sell’ our business. Encouraging staff in doctors office to reach out if they have questions or need help getting their patients the medical equipment they need. It always makes me feel good when I get a call and I have the right answer and get the ‘thank you so much’ for helping get this taken care of, I admit there have been a few times I have had to be honest to say, ‘I am not sure about that, let me try to find the answer for you’. I hate to have to admit I don’t have the answer, however it is better for me to admit I don’t, rather than to act and say I do and be wrong. You see my conduct and actions are proof of the wisdom I have and trying to act like I know something needs to be backed by the outcome of my words and actions. If I am too arrogant in my knowledge it can come back against me. That is exactly what James is telling us.
We need to have the conduct to back up what we know, what we are in Christ. In meekness with a humble spirit.
Our wisdom should be proven by the goodness of our conversation, not by the roughness or vanity of it.
Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2415). Peabody: Hendrickson.
*Wisdom is shown by words that help, encourage, show goodness.
*Wisdom is demonstrated when our deeds reflect Christ character and God’s commands
We are commanded to live a life that is different from the world.
James continues and list specifically, bitter jealousy and selfish ambition as a couple character that are in complete contrast to living in the wisdom of God.
James 3:14-16 ESV
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.
Jealousy is mentioned in Galatians 5 as the works of the flesh and is an attitude that can cause great harm to us and those around us.
Proverbs 6:34 ESV
For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.
Philippians 2:3 ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
There is a difference between the wisdom desired from and in the world and the wisdom that speaks of someone who is a new creature in Christ striving to live for him, not for self. James says.
James 3:17-18 ESV
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.
True wisdom is a gift from God, not from more knowledge and conversation concerning this world. But more off all that God is…
Pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits. Impartial, sincere, and peaceful.
When you have these ‘fruits’ growing and moving in your life you are showing the true wisdom of God. These are the characters of Christ, these are the characters Christ has made available to us, when we truly want to be more of Him and less of us.
There is a difference in being ‘right’ and being wise.
Sometimes wisdom is being silent, in order to show a gentle and peaceful spirit.
Sometimes wisdom is showing compassion, when compassion is not deserved.
Sometimes wisdom is caring more about the individual, than the situation.
Wisdom is full of mercy and good works, able to give when there is a need and to forgive when there is an offense.
Colossians says it like this.
Colossians 3:12-13 ESV
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Who is wise and understanding among you?