James: Pure & Practical Wisdom (Week 7)

The wise cooperate instead of compete.

James 3:13-18
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.

People will go to someone else for advice not only because they are wise but also because they are understanding.  The two go hand in hand and are consistently mentioned together within the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. The wisdom that James refers to here is that of supernatural wisdom.   How do you know if someone has this wisdom and understanding?  By who they are and by what they do.  Or as James puts it by their good life and their deeds that spring from that goodness + humility.

James moves on to describe the natural wisdom of the world that stands in stark contrast to the supernatural wisdom of heaven.   Natural wisdom or false wisdom is motivated by envy and ambition. These two motivations spoil human wisdom.  One is the wrong attitude towards others and the other is the wrong attitude towards self. If wisdom involves pulling others down and pushing one’s self up then it will always be misleading. The origin of this wisdom comes from the world (i.e the accumulation of humanity’s fallenness), from our sinful nature with it’s fallen desires, and from the devil.  The outcome of this wisdom is disorder and every evil practise.

However true wisdom, wisdom that is supernatural and heavenly is very different.  It is motivated by love.  Love for God and love for others.  It’s origin is from God himself and the Holy Spirit at work within us.  And it’s outcome is peace.

Listen to the full sermon and other sermons in this series here.

Questions to discuss in groups:

Is competitiveness ever a healthy or godly thing?

Take a moment as a group to read out loud James 3:13-17.

  • Compare and contrast the differences between earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom? How are they different?
  • How should we deal with envy and bitterness within our own heart?
  • Where do you see earthly wisdom at work in the world around you?  What might heavenly wisdom look like in the same situation?
  • How could you pray to have more heavenly wisdom instead of worldly wisdom?
  • Is there anything else that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you about?

For Personal Reflection

“Life is not a competition to be won but an opportunity to love and be loved.” Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the opportunities you have to love this week.

James 3:18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Wisdom for each day:

Monday:  You are blessed when….. 

In the sermon on the mount in Matthew 6 Jesus declares that there a number of people who are truly blessed. Now the word “blessed” can give us the idea that it is about external blessing; that is that our external world will look like it is all put together. However this word for blessed would better be interpreted as happy and more refers to our inner world – what we are experiencing and feeling in our inner world. In the sermon on the mount Jesus radically transforms our understanding of where true happiness is found. This week we are going to take a moment to reflect and meditate upon the beatitudes from the message version. Is there some truth that He wants to impart to you?

Tuesday: when you feel loss..

Matthew 5:4
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

Wednesday : when you are content with who you are.

Matthew 5:5
 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

Thursday: when you develop your hunger for God.

Matthew 5:6“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

Friday: when you know the freedom of God’s forgiveness..Matthew 5:8
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

Saturday: When you cooperate…

Matthew 5:9
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.