These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the book of James. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Happy Mother’s Day! I thought about us looking at what God says about motherhood: how to be a godly mom or how to honor your mom or something like that. But I thought, “If I was a mom what I really need is wisdom. Wisdom on how to deal with my family, my husband, my ex-husband, and how to deal with my own momma.” I just need God’s wisdom. So I decided that we would continue through our series on wisdom and what it is, what it’s not and how to experience it in our daily lives as followers of Jesus.
Before we continue with James, let’s take a brief look at 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 which says, “So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. 24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (NLT). Wisdom is more about a who, than a what. It’s more about a personal relationship with Jesus than memorizing wise principles. Let’s take a closer look at this.
- The Bible says, “So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.”
- This particular group of Jews that Paul is referring to are those who believe in the existence of God, but don’t believe in Jesus. They need God to produce some kind of supernatural sign or incredible miracle for them to believe. This is very close to what James was talking about when he described natural wisdom as “unspiritual.” They seem spiritual, they look and sound like the real deal, but they don’t follow Jesus and they don’t live by faith in Him. Their wisdom is “unspiritual” and they are offended when you bring up Jesus as the Son of God who died on the cross for their sins. They believe in God, but not Jesus.
- Then Paul mentions some Gentiles who think the things about Jesus are “all nonsense.” The Gentiles were really into the science of things. To believe, many of them, needed to see it, touch or it had to make intellectual sense. James would describe them as having “earthly” Earthly wisdom is about the here and now, its temporary, its what you can see, touch, feel, and control. To them, a person dying on a cross for our sins is “nonsense.”
- But Bible then says, “But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” When God begins to call you to salvation His wisdom, His ways, His plan in Jesus begins to make sense. When you are born again, His Spirit, moves into your life and begins helping you understand and accept God’s wisdom in Jesus. You begin to understand how your relationship with Jesus and Jesus’ relationship with you impacts how you live here. When you get Jesus, you get access to the wisdom that He has. To you “Christ is… the wisdom of God” that is active in your life. Being a follower of Jesus is being a follower of God’s wisdom. It all starts with a relationship with Jesus.
When I am talking about living out God’s wisdom in our lives, I’m talking about your relationship with Jesus and Him living His life through you. I’m talking about a deep relationship with Jesus. Keep all this in mind as we look at what James says about heavenly wisdom.
In James 3:13 we are told, “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness” (NLT). From this we see two types of wisdom: natural wisdom and heavenly wisdom. Those two wisdoms oppose each other. You are living by one of them. Today, I want us to focus on heavenly wisdom.
Today, we are going to begin taking a wisdom test. We are going to evaluate whether or not we are actually living out the wisdom of God in our lives. Remember, the wisdom of God is Jesus living through you and as a result living out His wisdom in your life. So what does a life look like that is walking in God’s wisdom?
Purity: If I’m wise I will not compromise my integrity
First, God’s wisdom is marked by purity. If I’m wise I will not compromise my integrity. James says, “The wisdom from above is first of all pure” (NLT). The word “pure” (hagnos) carries the idea of being free of contamination or defilement. The emphasis is not on pure actions, but a pure attitude. The focus is having a pure heart toward God. Your commitment to God is pure, it’s undivided and uncontaminated. Wisdom is having an undivided love for God. It is having a unmixed devotion to God.
- Natural wisdom is characterized by “bitter jealousy” and “selfish ambition.” Natural wisdom places you at the center.
- Heavenly wisdom is characterized by a pure and devoted love for God and places God at the center.
When you are walking in God’s wisdom you have a pure and devoted commitment to God that causes you to not compromise your integrity. You will find yourself being honest, not deceitful, not lying, not manipulating others for your personal gain or lowering your standards to get what you want. God’s wisdom, God’s purity is operating in your life.
One of the beatitudes that Jesus said was, “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God” (NLT). One of the things this means is that those who have a pure heart have an ability to “see God” at work in their life and in the lives around them easier than most. This wisdom that is pure allows you to see God’s activity around you.
Peace loving: If I’m wise I will not antagonize your anger
Number two, God’s wisdom is peace loving. If I’m wise I will not antagonize your anger. Wise people do not intentionally try to make others upset. Foolish people enjoy making others angry or irritated. Wise people work at maintaining harmony. James tells us that wisdom is “peace loving.” Wise people love peace. If you are operating off of God’s wisdom you will be a promoter and protector of peace. Some things you need to know about peace and loving peace.
- Loving peace is not avoiding conflict. Jesus did not avoid conflict. He did not avoid telling the truth. He never sacrificed the truth or what’s right for peace. It’s not peace at all cost. Sometimes to get to real peace, you need to speak the truth in love. When you know what you are going to say may cause someone to become angry you think through the best ways to approach the subject and talk about it. Wisdom tries to avoid unnecessary
- Loving peace is not appeasing people. Some people believe that if they can make everybody happy then they will have peace and produce peace. Jesus, had many people mad and angry with Him, but Jesus demonstrated perfect peace even when people wanted Him dead.
- Loving peace is promoting order. The word “peace” means to have everything in order and to be in a state of well-being. Everything is the way it ought to be. Everything is in its right place. Let me show you an example of this in 2 Samuel 11:7. We read, “When Uriah came to him, David asked concerning the welfare [shalom / peace] of Joab and the people and the state of the war” (NASB). Concerning “Joab,” David asked about his welfare. David was asking, “How is the peace of Joab?” Is Joab’s life in order and going well? Concerning the “people,” David asked about their welfare. Again David was asking, “How is the peace of the people?” David was concerned about there being order among the people and that they were doing well. Concerning the “war,” David was asking about the war’s welfare. David was asking about the peace of the war. Is everything in order with the war? Is the war going well?
Here’s the point: Biblical peace (real peace) deals with things being in order. Everything is the way it should be in your situation. Even in the middle of a problem you can have peace as long as everything is in order in the middle of the problem. This is why 1 Corinthians 14:33 Paul described God by saying, “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (NLT). The opposite of peace is disorder, chaos, and confusion. People who love peace attempt to bring order, stability, and understanding into a relationship or situation.
- Loving peace identifies you with God. Jesus said in one of the beatitudes, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9, NLT). When you are walking in peace, when you bring order, stability, and understanding into a relationship you are walking in the wisdom of God. You are identifying yourself and associating yourself with the ways of God. You will be called a child of God because you are acting like one of His.
Foolish people love arguments. You ever met someone who is always arguing, always got a complaint, always got a problem with somebody and their middle name seems to be Nag. I heard about one guy who was so argumentative he would only eat food that disagreed with him. Wise people try not to antagonize people’s anger. Proverbs 20:3 says, “Any fool can start arguments. The wise thing is to stay out of them” (GN). If I’m wise I don’t enjoy making people irritated. I don’t enjoy stirring up anger in others.
- Loving peace requires work. Do be a peacemaker is not easy. Romans 12:18 says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (NLT). Hebrews 12:14 says, “Work at living in peace with everyone” (NLT). “Do all you can” and “work at” bringing order, stability and understanding into relationships. This will take energy, time, planning, patience, and forgiveness. Jesus working in you and through you will provide for you the energy, patience, and determination for you to be a peacemaker rather than a troublemaker.
How do you know if you are living in the wisdom of God? If you have a growing devotion to Jesus you will notice that you will not compromise your integrity, because to do so would be to compromise your commitment to Him. That’s a mark of wisdom.
If you have a growing love for peace and you are less and less interested in antagonizing others unnecessarily you are walking in the wisdom of God. You want to bring order, stability and understanding into relationships rather than chaos, insecurity, and confusion.
Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 1:24, “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (NLT). To walk in the wisdom of God you will need to be in a relationship with Jesus. That relationship with Jesus begins by placing your faith in Jesus for salvation.
Marks of Heavenly Wisdom
If I’m wise I will not compromise my integrity
If I’m wise I will not antagonize your anger
If I’m wise I will not minimize your feelings
If I’m wise I will not criticize your suggestions
If I’m wise I will not emphasize your mistakes
If I’m wise I will not waste my life
If I’m wise I will not treat you unequally
If I’m wise I will not pretend to be someone I’m not