Be Wise Enough to Pursue God’s Wisdom

James 3:13-18

Jerry Collins




v                 How does wisdom apply to the control of my tongue?

v                 What kind of wisdom does the world display?

v                 What kind of wisdom is from heaven?


Every follower of Jesus Christ should be deeply concerned that he/she live a wise life. If you have a dead faith—a faith not vital and alive because it does not translate into real works of living obedience—or if you have a mouth out of control (both previous arguments), wisdom is missing in your life and wisdom is something you need to have. So, James brings his argument to the subject of wisdom. He does so in vs 13 with a rhetorical question for effect that he will answer himself. Wisdom will keep you out of a lot of trouble, heartache, deception, misunderstanding, and rivalry. It will also help you live a productive life worth living and enjoying.


The demand for wisdom: But who among you is wise and understanding? Who is it, really, that has a corner on the market of wisdom? Notice two key concepts of the person he is describing. 1) Wise describes one who has ‘skill’. 2) Understanding describes one who has perception and acumen. Putting these together James is describing someone who has the skill to live life with the perception of how life usually works. Wisdom is having a firm grasp of the obvious—a skill for recognizing life’s regular patterns. The wise man knows what to expect and he has understanding because he thinks in terms of the regular things of life. Wisdom is about bringing our chaos to order, our randomness to regularity, our confusion to understanding. It prevents us from being gullible and naïve and becomes the foundation for maturity. We can obtain wisdom only when we see life as it really is. So there is a demand James says for wisdom in life.

The Demonstration of wisdom: And how is wisdom expressed? Those who are wise show it by good behavior or conduct 13b. This is the original show and tell—that is, wisdom is measured by your conduct or the application of understanding to your life. Just because we know the correct thing to do does not mean we will always do the correct thing—example of Solomon who did not follow his own wisdom. So it is not a matter of acquiring information but applying reality to my life and doing so in the gentleness of wisdom. Wisdom does not get your life tied up in knots. There is a meekness and humility associated with wisdom. It is not bombastic, arrogant, belligerent, or ambitious. Wisdom does not allow your life to get bent out of shape. So wisdom expresses itself in your conduct and behavior. But James warns us that wisdom will fail us if we are unable to distinguish between worldly and godly wisdom.


Worldly wisdom has serious problems: (1) It is wisdom devoid of the insight fro the written Word of God. It is like the scientist of the middle ages who concluded the world was flat and life spontaneously generated itself from nonliving matter. These were not simple-minded people but people uninformed of the truth. (2) It is wisdom that is Satan/demon inspired and Paul says it will increase in the later days (1 Tim. 4:1). (3) The worldly-wise have not confessed their sin as sin and it is sin that causes foolishness (Rom 1:22). Tragically, xians often follow the world or mix world’s wisdom with God’s. (4) World’s wisdom is always changing because it provides solutions that manage the consequences of sin rather than repenting of it. There is nothing more stupid and foolish that to accommodate worldly wisdom.

WW is competitive 14 The WW selfishly compete for prominence—bitter jealousy (zealous jealousy) and selfish ambition (rivalry) seeking my own profit at the expense of yours. This is motivated from one’s heart it is not just a passing whim. This kind of drive is nothing to be boasting about since it denies the truth—that is, it turns truth inside out and makes truth serve you and your interests by twisting it to your advantage. Actually, pretending to serve the truth, you compete with it and that is what WW does (evolution & creation, Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, Mary; homosexuality and heterosexuality).

WW is earthly and demonic 15 This competitive spirit reveals the origin of this wisdom as earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. It is not the kind of wisdom that comes from above—that is, it does not have a heavenly origin. Self-promotion and ambitious advancement is the mere product of human desire. It is also inspired and encouraged by the spirits which serve Satan—it is demonic in nature. WW is destructive by nature 16 Godly wisdom teaches that you get your profit from God. Earthly wisdom, though, says you get your at the expense of others. This is why WW brings along jealousy and selfish ambition. Where you see that is where you have WW. And along with rivalry comes disorder—confusion and turmoil—and then makes possible what before you thought unthinkable—every evil thing. WW passionately pursues it’s own self-interest and determines to do so at any expense. (Picture).


In sharp contrast to WW is a wisdom from above vs 17. There is a different kind and quality of wisdom available to us.

Heavenly wisdom is pure 17 This wisdom is free from the moral contamination of envy and self-seeking. It is clean and holy. As such, it has certain characteristics reveled in our conduct (1) It is peaceable or peace-loving. There is an absence of self-promotion that attempts to gain at your expense. That is simply absent. Peace is a prerequisite to a righteous life. You cannot attain righteousness without it. (2) It is gentle—considerate, willing to yield rather than complain about one’s position. This wisdom does not rigidly insist on its own way. Gentleness is possible because you cease to clamor for your own way as the world’s wisdom promotes in marriage, family, marketplace or in ministry relationships. (3) It is reasonable—easy to be approached and compliant. (4) It is full of mercy which James has already promoted in our relationships to one another. (5) It is good fruits—expressed in worthy and beneficial deeds that make tangible difference. (6) It is without hypocrisy—cp. To vs 14 does not use truth for own selfish advantage knowing God’s truth is unwavering not shifting for my advantage.

Heavenly wisdom promotes righteousness 18 The principle of life is that whatever we sow that is what we reap (Gal 6). A peacemaker is one who demonstrates heavenly wisdom and is like a sower in a field. His behavior—his seed—has the ultimate fruit in righteousness. This righteousness is experienced in an atmosphere of peace when the peacemaker has done his work of sowing. This peace-promoting righteousness is possible because we are free from competing with others for anything. Godly wisdom teaches that we get our profit from God alone.

1. Don’t pursue knowledge. Pursue wisdom that puts knowledge to use in godly way.

2. Don’t attempt to promote yourself or you will do so at other’s expense. WW

3. Seek peaceable solutions wherever you can. This is the seed of a righteous life.