James 3:13-18 – True Wisdom

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Read James 3:13-18

We can tell a lot about James’ audience by what he teaches them. It seems they may have had a lot of similar faults to people we may recognize. Jealousy, selfishness, boasting, and lying are not uncommon in our culture today and might even be running rampant. What does James say about that? “Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.”

Take a moment to let that sink in. Demonic. It makes sense. Those attributes are certainly distasteful when you have experienced the Holy Spirit living inside you. James warns us to stay away from such things, for in them evil resides. Clearly his readers are having a hard time trading in their worldly habits and ideas in exchange for God’s viewpoint.  Thankfully, James gives us a solution.

God’s wisdom is our answer. The wisdom of the world will only disappoint and disillusion us. Remember 1 Corinthians 3:19, quoting Job, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, ‘He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.’” Isaiah 5:21 says, “What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.” In the first chapter, James himself said in verse 5, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

James does a beautiful job of showing us the benefits of being led by God’s wisdom rather than letting our sinful nature take over when we follow worldly wisdom. Some of the benefits to wisdom from above include its being “pure,” “peace loving,” “gentle” always, “willing to yield to others,” “full of mercy,” and “the fruit of good deeds.” God’s wisdom “shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” Aren’t those wonderful advantages? And to think we can tap into that wisdom is hard to fathom, isn’t it?

James’ first audience would be struggling with world view attitudes like many of us are today. It isn’t always “popular” to “go against the grain” and be different from the world. Are you ready to let God’s wisdom lead you? God’s wisdom will allow you to let go of the need to compare yourselves to others and want what they have. God’s wisdom will lead to peace.

When our hearts and minds align with God, we are closer to the persons God made us to be. Sharing in God’s wisdom brings contentment and confidence as well. Knowing we have the wisdom of God can take away any anxiety we may be feeling so we can better navigate the social and economic issues of life. Now we just need to remember to tap into it and not forge forward alone.

God gave King Solomon great wisdom, and Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 2:26: “God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.” This fits nicely with James other counsel to us in an earlier reading on the rich and poor. The key here is “God gives” and all that he gives is good. I want to be one of those who “pleases” God, don’t you?

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Let’s pray. Father, thank you for how you impart your wisdom to me as I need it. I love to be able to solve a problem knowing that I have insights from you. Help me to ignore the lures of this world trying to distract me from you. Continue to fill me with your wisdom, knowledge, and joy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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