The Book of James is a combination of Biblical Theology and practical application. James’ view of God is formed by the Hebrew scriptures and fulfilled in The Christ. As an introduction to today’s text, I’m going to briefly recap what has proceeded it:
Our growth ‘In Christ’ happens in challenges, trials, temptations and failures that Christ calls us to endure and even embrace because of what HE will develop in our character. We do this in intimate conversation with HIM through HIS Spirit, seeking HIM in prayer and humbly receiving His generous gift of wisdom. How we conduct our prayer life is of critical importance; wholehearted loyalty to Christ is the only way it works. God requires this relationship with HIM be based on our absolute spiritual poverty.
As Christ followers we are to place HIM in growing priority and our actions are to be an expression of our trust that HE has given us eternal life. Our common condition is sin, it taints the image of God we bear. God is not to blame for our condition and only HE can change it. When God changes our condition and brings us into HIS kingdom, we can now more fully reflect HIS image, so we are to conduct our relationships as HE commands.
Our submission to God’s will in Christ also amounts to a rejection of everything God is opposed to. Such a lifestyle is normative for members of Christ’s body because we are bound to Christ by His Spirit. Scripture commands us in Christ’s Body to welcome everyone into our community equally. It is a stewardship to be taken very seriously. How we live as Christ’s Body is important. Each command is of equal importance to God because He cares about our heart condition.
Jesus Christ’s Church exists based on God’s Mercy. We make God’s grace real in our lives by expressing God-given grace to others. For those in Christ, God’s mercy takes priority over God’s Judgement.
As Christ’s Body we define faith as God does in Scripture: Belief and action working in partnership. Saving Faith, that which leads to eternal life in Christ, is exclusively like this. When a person responds to the Biblical Gospel by surrendering their life, they then begin to and continue to ACT (not just think or talk) like they have given their life over to Christ! Every example of ‘Saving Faith’ in God found in the Bible, (Hebrews 11) is described as a partnership of belief and action.
God is the one who raises up teachers of His Word, not us. Such people will be closely but gracefully scrutinized by the other members of the body. We all are guilty of saying wrong things because of our sin condition. Recognizing and controlling the effects our speech has on others is a partnership of our obedience and God’s sanctifying work by His Spirit. Members of Christ’s Body protect the health of HIS Body by growing in how God would have them use their speech. Those who have biblically converted to following Christ do not invoke His power against other people.
There is a lot to understand and act upon. What we need to do this is GOD’S WISDOM
James 3: 13-17
13 Are there some wise and understanding men among you? Then your lives will be an example of the humility that is born of true wisdom. 14 But if your heart is full of rivalry and bitter jealousy, then do not boast of your wisdom—don’t deny the truth that you must recognize in your innermost heart.
- Here is how you evaluate who is wise: not by words but by the life lived
- The opposite of the life that shows humble wisdom is one of comparison
- Comparison is what causes rivalry & jealousy
- Satisfaction in the life God has given you is the doorway to wisdom
- We have to come to grips with thew reality of our inherent selfishness
- A recognition of ‘spiritual poverty’ is where it all starts (before & after salvation)
15 You may acquire a certain superficial wisdom, but it does not come from God—it comes from this world, from your own lower nature, even from the devil. 16 For wherever you find jealousy and rivalry you also find disharmony and all other kinds of evil.
- What are things that are totally unbiblical that our society considerers wise?
- The value system of our world revolves around SELF
- The amassing of resources, called saving for ‘retirement’ (Luke 12)
Jesus responding to a question about brothers fighting over their parents estate: (Lk 12:15-21)
And then, turning to the disciples, he said to them, “Notice that, and be on your guard against covetousness in any shape or form. For a man’s real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions.” Then he gave them a parable, “Once upon a time a rich man’s farmland produced heavy crops. So he said to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have no room to store this harvest of mine?’ Then he said, ‘I know what I’ll do. I’ll pull down my barns and build bigger ones where I can store all my grain and my goods and I can say to my soul, Soul, you have plenty of good things stored up there for years to come. Relax! Eat, drink and have a good time!’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this very night you will be asked for your soul! Then, who is going to possess all that you have prepared?’ That is what happens to the person who hoards things for himself and is not rich where God is concerned.”
- A relationship with God comes from trusting HIM, not self preservation
- Self focus is what takes us aways from God, it is what the Devil is all about
- Competition & comparison causes jealousy & rivalry
- THIS is the wisdom of the world, it is opposed to the wisdom of God
Personal Conviction: I have surrendered my life, my attention isn’t on ‘preparing for retirement’! All Christ followers are called to focus on growing our relationship with God, not our finances.
17 The wisdom that comes from God is first utterly pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions, with no breath of favoritism or hint of hypocrisy. 18 And the wise are peace-makers who go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness—in other people and in themselves.
- We have to differentiate between God’s wisdom and the world’s wisdom
- Study the real thing so much that you will recognize any deviation
- ‘True Peace’ is found in Christ, loving peace means a life that exalts the Gospel
- Being gentle is being considerate of others
- Being approachable comes from not thinking you are better than anyone else
- Once agin we see thoughts (beliefs) and actions working in partnership
- No favoritism because God’s wisdom tells us we are all equally HIS kids
- No hypocrisy because God’s wisdom tells us HE does it all so we are humbled
- God’s definition of wisdom: A life devoted to being used by God to bring peace
- Not needing attention we are to grow ‘God Crops’ in our lives and in others
God’s wisdom is revealed in a person’s life by what they do every day. It is not a matter of intentions and ideas, it is found in the lifestyle decisions we make and the things we do because Christ died for us!
Our shared sin condition leads us to comparison and THAT activates and justifies selfish desires. God’s wisdom is not displayed in self-focused priorities, a life that prioritizes self-preservation is not a life that has been entrusted to Jesus Christ!
God’s wisdom implanted and growing in our lives yields a tangible harvest: peace with God, considerate and humble relationships, belief and action in partnership, and zero elitism or narcissism.
God’s wisdom, not the world’s, is displayed in the lives of the members of HIS Body as we grow in Christ and help others grow in Christ, without drawing attention to ourselves.
How much do you compare your life to other people’s lives? What makes you do that? How might you do it less? If you have eternal life why does it matter?
Which has done more to shape your lifestyle: The Gospel of Jesus Christ or ‘The American Dream’? How might you change that?
What are the spiritual disciplines you practice (or can practice) to help you grow in God’s wisdom?