Welcome back! We are in James 3:13-18 this week, and we are half way done with our study. There is so much packed into this short book, and its been so fun to study it with you!
There are two kinds of wisdom, one from God (the genuine article) and the other a counterfeit version from the Father of Lies. James makes it clear that the earthly variety looks like wisdom and can be mistaken for true wisdom of the heavenly variety.When we break this passage down into 2 lists and it’s hard to see how one could get the 2 confused. Bitter envy on one side and mercy on the other. Selfish ambition vs humility. Disorder vs peace- loving. Doesn’t sound too easy to mistake one for the other to me. But they can and do get confused, even by the most well-intentioned of us.
Sometimes we live as if sin labeled with “good judgment” or “standing on a principle” somehow gets excused. Attempts to manipulate and cajole others to get our way - done in the name of what is “right” - seem to be acceptable and the label of selfishness never crosses our minds. Attitudes we have towards others often lack the love we are called to have and we “ok” this as we point out how “wrong” the other is in certain ways. We lack grace and impress our standards on others and view them with contempt when they don’t measure up, forgetting that God calls us to first be concerned with our own sin before we help others with theirs. We withhold forgiveness or refuse to settle a dispute because the other is so “wrong” and we leave behind our call to be peaceable. It makes perfect sense in human reasoning and without giving it a second thought, we fail to see our sin for what it is and assume we are “right” before God.So how can we know which wisdom we have? This is a very important issue which we see by the way James describes it. Earthly, unspiritual, demon-like. A close examination is needed and I think honesty is key here. We hold certain view points and attitudes for so long, they feel so comfy and oh so right. Bringing them to God and being willing to be wrong about being right is where we need to begin.
“Do not boast about it or deny the truth.” (v 14) Its so much easier to deny the truth about our sin. To rationalize it and somehow tell ourselves that God would put His stamp of approval on this one because we have good cause for it. But that leaves us treading on thin ice, it’s just not going to hold us up. (Psalm 35:2-3; Isaiah 5:20-21; Jeremiah 8:6b)But I don’t want to stay focused on the negative, let’s ask God to examine our hearts and then humbly accept what He shows us, seek forgiveness and repentance then move on to the positives. What we can become.
Have you ever noticed that after you have decided to eat healthy, you spot the donuts sitting on the counter. If you repeatedly reprimand yourself for wanting one, “No, you’re not eating one of those, you ate too much junk today already, it’s not good for you…” pretty soon you find yourself munching on one? But, if you remind yourself how healthy you will feel if you don’t eat it, and how good that pomegranate is, and how much you love the strawberries and oranges sitting there as well, it is easier to skip the donut? Beating yourself up doesn’t encourage positive actions. Focusing on what we can be turns us towards growth. Not perfect, but growing, and that’s the goal.When we look at the list of Wisdom from above, we see character traits that Jesus has. Pure…Peace-loving…considerate…submissive…full of mercy…impartial…sincere…humble. We are called to be transformed to be like Him. (Romans 8.29) He is our example. When we follow him, starting at the heart level, we will end up with the wisdom from above. We can be peace-loving…pure…condiderate…merciful…humble…just like Him. That will lead us to real wisdom.
What are your thoughts on wisdom? Do you see counterfeit wisdom pop up in your life? How do you teach yourself to follow godly wisdom instead? Leave a comment below. :)