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Showing posts with label peace-loving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peace-loving. Show all posts

Monday, June 3, 2024

Godly Wisdom vs Worldly Wisdom | A Sermon on James 3:13-18

As we continue through the Epistle of James, written by the biological half-brother of Jesus Christ, we come to the place where James compares two kinds of wisdom.  One kind of wisdom represents wisdom that comes from God in Heaven.  Another kind of wisdom is worldly, unspiritual, and demonic.  Would you like to know the difference between the two types of wisdom?  Listen to James 3:13-18.

James 3:13-18 (NIV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Christian Examples of Wisdom
Remember, James wrote his letter to people who were already Christians.  And in it he basically says, if you are a Christian, you will live an honorable life and do good works with humility.

Can you think of some examples of people who lived an honorable life?  Perhaps you might think of Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life to serving the poor and sick, displaying humility, compassion, and selflessness, embodying the qualities of wisdom, mercy, and sincere love for others.  Or maybe you would think of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," who dedicated his career to educating and nurturing children through kindness, empathy, and understanding, promoting peace and genuine care for others in his community and beyond.  Or maybe you might think of Martin Luther King, Jr., who bravely and peacefully fought for civil rights and promoted harmony, righteousness, and compassion. 

Though all these examples are public figures who had fame and notoriety, fame and notoriety was not their goal.  They did what they did with humility and compassion, willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.  (It is interesting to note that all 3 were all Christian leaders.) 

Of course, Jesus is the ultimate example of a man who lived an honorable life with good works and humility.  He gave up the glory of heaven, humbled himself as a servant, lived a perfect life for the sake of others, and even died for sinners who didn’t deserve His grace and forgiveness, but desperately needed it.  Jesus is the embodiment of goodness and wisdom.

An honorable life, according to James, is one marked by humility, good conduct, and wisdom that is pure, peace-loving, considerate, merciful, impartial, and sincere, resulting in peace and righteousness.  Christians are to live and honorable life and do good works with humility.  Who have you known personally who has lived an honorable life, doing good works with humility?   How did they inspired you to live like them?

Worldly Wisdom
Worldly wisdom, has an appearance of wisdom.  It has the false-promise of success, but it is a lie.  It is demonic and it leads to sin, suffering, and death.   James says that worldly wisdom is full of envy and selfish ambition (see versus 14-15).  Envy is a feeling of frustrated inferiority where you are jealous of others and what they have.  Ambition can be a positive attribute that drives people to achieve goals and succeed.  But when Ambition is coupled with envy and selfishness, it becomes sinful, focused solely on personal gain, often at the expense of others.  Perhaps you can think of some people who embody the selfish ambition of worldly wisdom. 

You might think of Bernie Madoff, the financier orchestrated one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, defrauding thousands of investors out of billions of dollars purely for personal financial gain, with no regard for the devastating impact on his victims.

Or perhaps you think of Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, whose ambition for power and dominance led to World War II and the Holocaust, resulting in immense suffering and loss of life.

James 3:16 says, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”  Sadly, we see a lot of this kind of demonic wisdom in our world leaders today.  We need to pray hard during these troubled times.  

Can’t you see what worldly wisdom leads to?  It leads to conflict and strife, dishonesty and deception, pride and arrogance, short-term gains with long-term consequences, and discontent and unhappiness.  Be very careful of anyone who is full of worldly wisdom.  You can clearly see where it leads.  The Bible tells us.  history has shown us.  Yet people are still manipulated and misled by people with worldly wisdom.  You don’t want any part of the “kingdom” they are trying to build.

Godly Wisdom
In verse 17, James tells us a better way—Godly Wisdom.  This is the wisdom that come from God above—heavenly wisdom, the wisdom Christians should seek.  “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

For wisdom to be pure means it is free from moral corruption, selfish motives, and deceit.  It is characterized by sincerity, integrity, and a focus on what is right and just.  Godly wisdom prioritizes truth, goodness, and the well-being of others, reflecting a heart and mind aligned with God's will and values.

Godly wisdom is peace-loving and promotes harmony, reconciliation, and understanding among people.  Godly wisdom fosters an environment of cooperation and mutual respect, prioritizing the well-being of relationships and the community.

Godly wisdom is considerate, mindful of others' feelings, needs, and perspectives.  It shows compassion, empathy, and respect and seeks to understand and value the experiences of others.  Godly wisdom avoids harshness and insensitivity, instead promoting kindness, patience, and gentleness in all relationships and decisions.

Godly wisdom is submissive, meaning it is willing to listen, be open to reason and yield to others when appropriate.  It has a humble/teachable spirit that values collaboration and respects authority.  Godly wisdom is not stubborn or argumentative but is flexible, cooperative, and ready to consider others' viewpoints and make adjustments for the greater good.

Godly wisdom is full of mercy.  It shows compassion and forgiveness.  It prioritizes grace, reflecting a heart that is generous and ready to help others without judgment or condemnation. 

Godly wisdom has good fruit, meaning it produces positive, tangible outcomes in a person's actions and character.  This includes acts of kindness, generosity, and righteousness that benefit others and contribute to the well-being of the whole community.

Godly wisdom is impartial—fair and just, treating all people equally without favoritism or bias. 

Godly Wisdom is sincere—genuine, honest, and free from pretense or deceit.  It does not manipulate or deceive but is transparent and trustworthy, fostering trust and credibility. 

Which Wisdom Will You Choose?
Think about these two very different kinds of wisdom: earthly wisdom that comes from Hell and leads to death or Godly wisdom that comes from Heaven and lead to eternal life.

Wisdom from above is what truly leads to a life of peace, righteousness, and genuine fulfillment.  James, the brother of Christ, challenges us to embody this wisdom in our daily lives, living with humility, purity, peace, consideration, mercy, good fruit, impartiality, and sincerity.

The ultimate example of godly wisdom is found in Jesus Christ.  He lived an honorable life, full of mercy and truth, and gave Himself up for us so that we might be reconciled to God and to one another. As we seek to follow His example, we are called to come together in unity and love, reflecting His grace in all that we do.