Which Wisdom Will You Choose? (James 3:13-18)

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God’s wisdom is not the same as the world’s wisdom. This fallen, sinful world tells us to always “look out for number one” and put ourselves first as much as we can. God tells us in His Word to put others before ourselves and to put Christ before everything. The world encourages us to “get ours” as much as possible, even if that means bending the rules and hurting others. The Bible tells us to be patient, continue doing what is right, and trust in God to help and protect us. The world encourages us to always want more and more so that we can be just like our neighbors, but the Bible tells us to be content or satisfied and happy with what we have. Worldly wisdom comes from the world’s current master, Satan, while biblical wisdom comes from the world’s ultimate Lord and King, God in heaven. The wisdom of the world leads us along the broad road to sin, death, and hell. The wisdom of God leads us along the narrow way of holiness and eternal life, both now and forever.

All of us must choose each day which wisdom to follow. Wisdom according to the Bible is not knowledge, but the application of that knowledge to our daily living. That’s why James tells us today that someone who claims to be a wise Christian should should “show it by their good life.” Those who live by biblical wisdom will “sow in peace” and “reap a harvest of righteousness.” In other words, their knowledge of God’s Word will direct their words and actions to be godly and lead over time to godly rewards of love, joy, and peace. However, those who live by the world’s wisdom will become selfish people who fall into “disorder and every evil practice,” which means that they will experience conflict and suffering.

So the real question is not if we have wisdom, but what type of wisdom do we have? My prayer is that we would all live by the wisdom of God’s Word, even when it is hard, and so enjoy the blessings of His peace.

The Text (James 3:13-18)

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. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you consider yourself to be wise? Why or why not?
  2. According to today’s passage, what is wisdom?
  3. Have you ever experienced bitterness or envy? When? What happened?
  4. Would others described you as peaceful, considerate, and submissive to authority? Explain.

In Christ,

Scott Reel

The Untamable Tongue (James 3:7-12)

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Training animals is not easy. It usually requires months of repeated commands and guidance and the use of rewards and perhaps also punishments to get the behavior you want from a creature. You might even need to get help from a professional to get particularly stubborn animals to submit to your authority. And yet the Bible says that learning to “tame” or control what we say is much harder than taming animals. One moment we find ourselves using our words to build people up with encouragement, and the next moment we are using our words to tear other people down. We can go from saying the kindest and most loving things to a person to saying equally mean and hateful things about them the very same week or even day.

What causes such inconsistency in our words? It is the fickleness of our hearts. Just as a spring sends forth water to the surface from deep in the earth, so our mouths pour out speech from down in our souls. As long as our hearts remain unsteady and based on our changing circumstances instead of on the solid foundation of Christ’s Word, we will be find ourselves constantly canceling out the good we say with the evil. As James tells us today, “This should not be!” Rather, we need to learn to set our hearts each morning and evening on God’s truths and promises and let the Spirit bring forth the fruit of self-control in our words. It is very difficult to master our speech, but if we are to faithfully follow Christ, then it must be done for His sake. God would not ask us to do something without helping us to do it by His power and grace. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God this day and every day.

The Text (James 3:7-12)

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Questions to Think About

  1. How long do you think it takes to break a horse for riding? How about to train a dog to obey commands? Or to teach a seal to do tricks? How are these animals trained?
  2. How long does it take a person to learn to control what they say? Explain.
  3. Do you know any people with good self-control of their words? What would you guess is their secret?
  4. Have you ever had someone say very nice things to you one time but then say very mean things to or about you another time? What did they say? How did you feel?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel