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James has been teaching about the importance of works (2/14-26); the importance of words (3/1-12); Now he returns to a theme with which he started his letter: wisdom (1/5-8).

Session No. 7 THE WELL-SPRING OF WISDOM    James 3/13-18

In our first session I defined wisdom as the ability to apply Scriptural principles to contemporary situations. Our Kingdom perspective or worldview (i.e. our perception of reality) determines what we produce in terms of our works & words. How we see things ("wisdom") determines how we act (works) and speak (words).

James 3/13If - "You are wise and understand God's ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don't brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise!"   

James identifies two different kinds of hearts or well-springs for what we do & say.

[1]  THE WISDOM FROM BELOW (vs.14-16)

There is a wisdom in this world that claims to be truth but it is a product of the deception and darkness in which this whole world resides. (1 John 5/19). It may sound plausible, logical and even persuasive. But this kind of wisdom is known by the following features or characteristics.

A. ITS NATURE

a. Earthly.  Its motivation is not from God's Kingdom but from the Kingdom of this world.

b. Unspiritual. It is untouched or unaffected by Holy Spirit - it is natural rather than supernatural.

c. Demonic. Since this world is in darkness, worldly wisdom is inspired by Devil himself.

B. ITS QUALITIES

a. Bitter Envy. It can be impassioned, fanatical, zealous. But it is unbalanced passion rather than reasoned conviction. The envy or jealousy is based in the reputation of the advocates whose desire is to prove their point rather than exalt truth.

b. Self-centredness. The goal of this wisdom is self-advancement i.e. what is good for me and my cause.

c. Ambition. This is an arrogance, a self-assertion that energises this dark wisdom and drives it to great lengths to ensure its ultimate success.

C. ITS RESULTS

a. Disorder.  Instability, confusion, inconsistency, division and strife. These results become evident as a lifestyle or pattern.

b.  Every evil practice. This so-called "wisdom" perverts and distorts the truth which eventually leads to a perverted and distorted lifestyle.

Consider: "The wisdom of this world is behind the arguments for many of the destructive social practices today. E.g. Abortion, Euthanasia, Homosexuality, Same-sex Marriage".

[2]  WISDOM FROM ABOVE (vs.17,18)

Whereas the wisdom of the world is the counterfeit masquerading as the truth, the wisdom of God's Kingdom is the real deal and is identifiable by the following characteristics.

A. ITS NATURE

a. From heaven.  Its source is in God Himself. It is not of human or demonic initiative, ability or endeavour. It is known for the way it takes spiritual principles and truths and applies them to contemporary situations.

B. ITS QUALITIES

a.  Pure.  This is a reference to motivation. It is pure in the sense that it is free from bitter envy & selfish ambition. While those who exercise worldly wisdom seek personal vindication and achievement, those who function in God's wisdom seek only to know and promote the truth.

b.  Peace-Loving. This is a reference to human relationships. A person with this wisdom is a peace-maker as opposed to worldly wisdom which leads to division and strife.

c.  Considerate.  It is not legalistic and argumentative.  It is gracious yet without compromise.   It tempers justice with mercy.

d. Submissive.  It is not stubborn; it is willing to listen. It seeks to understand.  It does not have to be right or get its own way.

e.  Full of mercy/good fruits.  This is practical mercy towards opponents. It is bigger than opposing points of view. Positive care for those suffering unjustly or as a result of own choice.

f.  Impartial.  It does not make prejudiced distinctions between people - especially those of opposite views. It is strong in commitment.

g. Sincere.  It is genuine and  authentic. There is no sham, disguise, intrigue - open, what you see is what you get.

C. ITS RESULTS

a. Sows Peace.  It has a commitment to right relationships fostered by forgiveness, love and patience

b. Harvests Righteousness.  This is the goal of the Kingdom - Matt.6/33 - right with God and people

APPLICATION:

1.  What are some of the practical applications that emerge from this passage?

2.  How do we respond to those who operate out of the other "wisdom"; the wisdom of this world?

3.  What characteristics should mark our attitude and relationships with those hold views that are contrary to ours?

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