Teaching In Wisdom: James 3:13-18

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.   James 3:13-18 

James continues his instruction to those who teach. Last week he taught us that a true teacher needs to control their tongue. This week he teaches us that we also need wisdom.

Those who are wise and understanding live their lives in humility with an active faith. Each of these words , by the way, describe the way we use knowledge not whether or not we have knowledge or whether or not we’re intelligent. This is the wisdom from above. On the contrary, those who have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in their [your] hearts, do not boast [be proud] and be false [lie against] to the truth know not how to use their knowledge in a Godly way, for their wisdom is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.    

A life full of wisdom that comes from God is characterized as pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. In other words, others are put first, their needs and their welfare.

This is not the case with false teachers or even those who profess truth, yet don’t live it. These are jealous and selfish people, concerned only with themselves and what they will get out of what they do.

Now, no life is exempt from flaws, setbacks or sin in general, however we must look at the pattern [lifestyle] of the lives of those who have teaching authority. Jesus warns us in His Sermon on the mount (Matt. 7:17) “Just so, every good tree bears good fruit and a rotten tree bears rotten fruit.” We’ll be able to “see” the difference!

We must also remember that our eternal soul is at stake,”What profit would it be, for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his own soul?” (Matt. 16:26). Our classroom, our blog, our church is not [should not be] a popularity contest, and whoever has the biggest class, the most views or the largest congregation, automaticly wins. It’s about “quality” not “quantity”. And that “quality” can only be found in God’s gift of wisdom.

Remember what James said earlier in his letter; “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask of God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly and he will be given it” (1:5). God is willing to give it, if we are willing to ask for it, in faith.

So this week, let us take a moment to ask God to give us wisdom. Wisdom as we teach, work and play. Wisdom in making decisions that effect our family, friends and community as well as our churches and parishes and even our nation. Most importantly though, for wisdom in, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18).


8 Responses

  1. In my mind I have always pictured a very long pause after the question, “Who is wise and understanding among you?”, when this letter was first being read aloud in gatherings of Christians. Enough of a pause that people would begin to identify with it and think to themselves, “yep, that’s me!” Then the next line would hit them with conviction, “let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

    “So this week, let us take a moment to ask God to give us wisdom.”

    Yes! Let’s ask Him and let’s live it!

    Thanks for the good words of encouragement and challenge.

  2. Thank you Tom. It’s always nice to hear from you and get your input on the scriptures.
    Blessings to you.

  3. Tim,
    I was raised with humility and wisdom. Not comparable to many, but much more than those I have seen around me. I am really starting to think you have a hidden microphone in my house. 🙂 I spoke to my husband and told him that he had too much pride and that he needed to learn ‘humility’. Where you there, Tim?
    I must be honest with you though Tim. Sometimes, the whole ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ has haunted me. Recently, I must confess, I committed the ultimate SIN. I asked, “God, I really didn’t do anybody wrong, why me?”
    Then I felt really guilty about that one. However, throughout my life, I have been consistently involved with people who were horribly jealous, selfish, and self-centered and eventually instead of turning the other cheek, I began to cut them from my life.
    ”What profit would it be, for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his own soul?” (Matt. 16:26) (you quoted Scripture above)…but why is it that I forfeit my soul constantly because I am too humble? Not that I question this, but it can be a double-edged sword, humility, that is.
    My humility turned into shame and self-destruction because of the jealous, self-centered ones around me, but I can not blame them. I let it happen. Is too much humility a sin?

  4. Harlequin,
    I believe this to be what we as Christians are called to.. to suffer as Christ suffered. In His humility, He suffered for us, in our humility we suffer for Him, and in the end we are vindicated. By the Lord of Hosts, for revenge is His and it will be repaid, someday.

  5. Poor Jesus. His suffering surely outweighed anything I have ever gone through. The Ecstasy of feeling every person’s sin is something none of us could handle. The ones that were blessed enough to receive the Stigmata only feel short periods of what He had/still felt/feels. The pain and suffering that has been witnessed through those that had seen Padre Pio.

    The sad thing is I don’t believe that God is vengeful. I don’t know if I even believe in Karma.

    Interesting enough, I was sent a link to a friend’s blog today that paraphrased a quote from the Avesta: (these are his words):

    “It is not promised that those who do evil on this earth will be punished and it is not promised that those who do good on this earth will be rewarded.”

    This was interesting to me, because of the questioning I had for God. Yet, I do believe that everyone has suffering, evil doers and those that do good. Not related only to Christian faith, but all of mankind. I am very big on not throwing stones at glass houses, but sometimes when I am impatient, I sit and pout about ‘fair’ and ‘unfair’. It’s irrational and selfish, and I know that, but it still comes knocking at my skull. I’m just in a bratty mood.


    Let’s see if I can think of one of my mum’s stories and blog it tonight.

  6. James speaks directly to my heart; no kidding, I seem to have this special relationship with James’ writings and how he espouses them.

    I found today to be a most enlightening day insofar as my earlier reading is from Proverbs 4: 7-8 which in part states: “Wisdom is supreme; therefore make a full effort to get wisdom. Esteem her and she will exalt you; embrace her and she will honor you.”

    And then I read something that caught my eye—and it lead me to here. Let’s just go out and praise Jesus today, tomorrow, and forever. Cheers!

    OMC at http://americanage.wordpress.com

  7. i love this site,pls keep it up

  8. I want to be the best intelligent boy in school to preach the word of God. How can i be preaching and at the same time.

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