Part of being a wise Christian is seeing the big picture. Every human being can see the small pictures that are all around us, but Godly wisdom allows us to see the big picture. This wisdom only comes from above and can not be found here. Many of us bounce back and forth between the big picture and all of the small ones. Arguments, divorces, ongoing feuds, bitter envy, selfishness, church splits, and all of the like come from people only seeing the small pictures. It is easy to focus in on miniscule details which instigate complaining and arguing, but it is very difficult to consistently look at the big picture. And when we are focusing on the big picture, all of the small stuff will pass away, unnoticed.
Wisdom is a subject that all cultures deal with in some way. For the Greco/Roman world it was an ideal; something to be discussed and meditated upon, but ultimately never amounted to anything. For the Jews, wisdom was something that was from above and was to influence everyday life. Godly wisdom was/is for them, practical. James teaches that wisdom is essentially practical and will be see by our attitude and behavior.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Point 1: Earthly WisdomWhat characterizes earthly wisdom which allows us to only see the small pictures?
Hearts are full of “Bitter Envy and Self-Seeking.” Also it is “earthly, sensual, and demonic.”
Bitter envy is full of jealousy, greed, resentment, and spite. Really it all points to Selfishness. Part of that big picture is that all sin boils down to selfishness. We are sinful, fallen, weak creatures that only seek after what is best for us as individuals. Think of all of the sin in your life at certain times in the past or even today. What one word describes that sin perfectly? Selfishness
First, this wisdom is earthly. It “does not descend from above.” Earthly wisdom is limited and does not look outside of our own little bubble to see the entire, beautiful world that God has created.
Second, earthly wisdom is sensual, that is to say unspiritual in every way. There is no faith involved and those who are full of earthly wisdom only function by what they can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. Most people live in a world where human reason and human feeling reign supreme. This is the opposite of what God intends for us.
Lastly, earthly wisdom is demonic. This is the climax. Earthly wisdom is of the devil. Satan intends for us to focus on this world, live by our senses, and obey his influence. All of these things limit us and force us to only see the small pictures which cause “confusion and every evil”
False wisdom, which does not lead to “good conduct and meekness,” is characterized by the world, the flesh, and the demons. This is in stark contrast to “the wisdom that is from above” which is noted as heavenly in nature, spiritual in essence, and has a divine origin.
Point 2: Godly WisdomWhat characterizes Godly wisdom which allows us to see the big picture?
Good Conduct and Meekness
First, wisdom from above is PURE. There are no corrupt motives in Godly wisdom. The next seven words given in the list are all specific aspects of the overall purity of Godly wisdom.
1. Peaceable: peace-loving “Blessed are the peacemakers”
2. Gentle: considerate “I am gentle and lowly in heart”
3. Willing to Yield: submissive “Submit to one another”
4. Full of Mercy: impartial “For I desire mercy” and “Blessed are the merciful”
5. Full of Good Fruits: sincere “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit”
6. Without Partiality: favoritism “Do not hold the faith with partiality”
7. Without Hypocrisy: doubleness “He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways”
The main point that I would like to get across with this sermon is (v13) that Godly wisdom inspires a person to live a life of good conduct that springs from the meekness of wisdom. If you can see the big picture then it does not matter if you have more education than another, it does not matter if you have more money than another, it does not matter if you have more experience than another, and it doesn’t even matter if you have less sin than another. The big picture causes meekness (humility). That is why the Scripture teaches in both the OT and the NT that the meek are the people who will inherit the earth. The meek are God’s people.
1. The prophets proclaimed this in the days of old such as Zephaniah in 2:3 (p1528).
2. Also in 3:12 God says through the prophet that the faithful remnant that would be left preserved would be people who were meek and humble.
3. The last thing I would like to show you is a clear teaching from both testaments.
Look at Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5.
James has already said in this letter that we need Godly wisdom that only comes from above. The great fact of the matter is that God freely gives this wisdom if only we will ask. Look at 1:5.
Verse 18 shows James main point in this section. He wants them to know that peace in the community of believers is attainable. A church can be in full harmony and constantly seeing the big picture, but it can only come by Godly wisdom. So let us seek out wisdom and understanding, let us be people who are characterized by unselfishness, love, and humility. Then we will be a people who know the peace of God the surpasses all understanding. It is attainable if only we will ask, seek, and knock. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”