James 3:13-18  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  54:56
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We are continuing in the book of James today. As we have been exploring James, I hope it is clear that he is teaching and challenging the the Jewish Christians in the church. He has been going through a series of different aspects of a person’s life that a can be evaluated to see if they are a true follower of Jesus. There were those in the church that were claiming to follow Jesus but in reality there wasn’t spiritual transformation in the persons life to validate the heart of the person. So far James has looked at how a true believer will act differently:
Under trials. Will react differently to temptation. Will treat the Word of God reverently, will treat people impartially, will produce works from their faith, and last week they will speak differently. We looked at how the tongue or our speech reveals what is in the heart of a person. That the tongue is the window to the inner man.
James will add another area to the list. Today he will look the difference between a true believer and a false believer when it comes to wisdom. Stand with me as we honor God with the reading of our main text today.
James 3:13–18 (CSB)
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.

Wisdom Is

James starts with a rhetorical question and the proof of the answer.
James 3:13 (CSB)
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom.
Who among you is wise and understanding? James is asking who has the characteristic of wisdom and the skill or aptitude to use that wisdom. Wisdom is a common theme throughout the entire bible. With close to 200 verses in the bible with the word wisdom in it, let alone the verses that speak of wisdom indirectly. It doesn’t take long to see that this is an important part of God’s revelation to his people.
Proverbs 4:7 (CSB)
7 Wisdom is supreme—so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.
Proverbs 16:16 (CSB)
16 Get wisdom—how much better it is than gold! And get understanding—it is preferable to silver.
The issue isn’t finding people who claim to be wise. How many of you work or live with know it alls? Who here knows that person who just thinks they are smarter than anyone else in the room? How many people do we run into that believe they are the smartest person that they know? In today's world of relative truth we no longer even argue about the level of knowledge we have but we argue about what is even true. Since the beginning people have been seeking after what they call wisdom.
Genesis 3:6 (CSB)
6 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
When we typically think of wisdom we think of people who are really smart but that is not what wisdom really is. This is the dilemma of our time what is real wisdom. James started with the question Who among you is wise and understanding? And he answers with
James 3:13 (CSB)
... By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom.
What James is getting at is that wisdom isn’t knowledge. It isn’t intellectual prowess. It is the practical application of or discernment of how to use the knowledge that a person has. The first part is realizing that wisdom is behavioral not intellectual. Second it is based on the knowledge a person has so it is imperative that a person has true information.
A person does not get to claim to be wise. A person who’s behavior proves to correctly apply truth to their lives is called wise. It is a label others give you. You cannot claim it for yourself. To have the wisdom that James is talking about it, it comes from a life that is correctly applying the truth of God’s Word in their lives. This is one of the tests of a true believer. Can others call them wise? Do they have behaviors that demonstrate a practical application of the truth in their lives.
But the bible also says what this type of life is characterized by. They conduct or do works or actions in the gentleness that comes from wisdom.
Gentleness - An attitude of tenderness, graciousness, meekness.
Not weakness. This is power under control. It is the opposite of arrogance. Jesus is the perfect example of gentleness. All of the power that he had, he was alway under control and applied his works with gentleness because he was perfectly wise. He perfectly applied the truth of God to the life he lived. He always lived in the will of the Father.
This is different than arrogance. Arrogance comes from pride where gentleness comes from humility. Arrogance leads to harshness, pain, contempt, condescension, condemnation. Humility leads to gentleness and compassion.
Steve and Mark Story
Gentleness should be the characteristic of every believer of Christ. Because Christ was gentle. Gentleness is not bitter, malicious, self seeking, arrogant, of vengeful.

Wisdom From Below

You see wisdom is the practical application of truth. But there is an issue. What is truth? Where does truth come from? Is there only one truth? The issue is that true is what you believe is true. There are four sources of truth in our lives. James is going to start with the wisdom from below.
James 3:14–15 (CSB)
14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
Inside each and every person is this internal desire to have what we want. This is the most basic of behaviors that we have. Children teach us this very early on. They are selfish and do not care what they do to others as long as they get what they want.
Bitter envy. Bitter jealousy. Sharp, pointed, or prickly jealousy. I want what you have. I want what I want. I want I want I want. This is the desire in the heart. The beginning of temptation. The spark of want. As I have been around people I have come to the following conclusion: the end of every relation on earth starts and ends with selfishness. The moment I want what I want more than I want what my wife wants I have started down the path of a strained relationship. The second I want what I want more than want what God wants I start down a dark path.
A heart of selfishness is the root of broken relationships and the heart of selflessness is the root of healthy relationships.
The want and desire for “mine” starts the process but it take on action when selfish ambition or extreme selfishness takes over. I want and now I act. This type of behavior is from false or human wisdom. It is the application of false or human truths.
James says these false truths come from three of the four sources. Earthly or the world. This is the focus of the truth that man can find on this planet right here and right now. The truth that comes from the limited view of a person living on this earth. I always love the first major snow of the year. You get to see how people behave and you can find people who have false knowledge of how slick a road is by how they drive, either way too slow or way too fast. This type of wisdom is based on experiences that a person has had in their lives.
The second is unspiritual or human nature. The wisdom that comes from the fallen man. The sinful natural man. The brokenness of each of us as we have been corrupted by the sin and fall of man. This is the natural wisdom that we all all have. This is probably the most common wisdom on the world today.
The third is demonic or satanic. This is the influence of the fallen spirits that are in the world. As we read in the serpents wisdom given to Eve in the garden. This is the influence of spiritual forces on man.
Paul even warns the church in Corinth of this influence.
2 Corinthians 11:3–4 (CSB)
3 But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly!
Following the wisdom of these three leads to the envy and selfish ambition. They point man towards man and thus create...
James 3:16 (CSB)
16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice.
They create disorder and every evil practice. Applying false truth to your life will produce disorder and sin. When we look at out lives, our homes, our church, if we see disorder and sin in these areas we must look to see what false truth we are following. What is the envy and selfish ambition that is alive in the body of Christ? If my marriage is strained, what am wanting that is selfish and what am I missing that is selfless.
But the best part is that even though this is natural to us, we do not have to live here.

Wisdom From Above

James 3:17 (CSB)
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.
The forth source of truth is from God. From the words of God. The wisdom that comes from God, or the behaviors, the life lived when applying the words of the bible to a person’s life will be pure. Without blemish or corruption, having no faults. This person will be known as a peacemaker. A person who promotes oneness. Promotes unity. They will be gentle, power under control, self restrained.
They will be compliant or reasonable. They will not be known as stubborn. or disputable. They are willing to listen and submit to Godly authority and direction.
They will be full of mercy. they will show leniency and compassion on those who offend especially by a person of authority. They see beyond the immediate infraction to restore the person back to God or to people. Connecting people to Christ and one another. Godly wisdom is full of forgiveness and mercy.
They will be full of good (moral) fruit. The fruit is an outcome. It is good works from a living faith in God.
They will be unwavering. This mean non-divisive. They do not cause divisions and fractions among different groups. Goes along with loving peace.
They will be without pretense or without hypocrisy. This is a big issue in the church today and in families. This type of wisdom will never say “do as I say and not as I do”. It will say follow me as I follow Christ.
When all of this takes place the following is achieved.
James 3:18 (CSB)
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.
This verse is a little hard to directly translate. But it has this idea of sowing wisdom and cultivating peace that creates the fruit of righteousness which in turn plants more peace and the process repeats. But the fruit of true wisdom is righteousness. Or a life that is right with God. That behaves in a way that honors, and glorifies God. But this fruit is a a by product of that life.


The dilemma for the church is real.
What purpose to we come together each week in church or in small group or study. What is the chief purpose of man?
To Glorify God and to enjoy him forever. To Glorify God and To enjoy him forever.
This is our purpose. But for this to be a part of our lives we must be wise. We must first vet out the false true that is easy to follow. We are a diverse group of people. But a wonderful group of people. We come from different worldly experiences, our sinful natures manifest in different ways, and the enemy is always at work. We have been in churches who we submitted to their authority and we believed in their wisdom to find it hurt, wounds and full of hypocrisy. Our minds have been filled with false and half truths, we have parents that did not teach or show us the way we should go. But all of that is ok. Because if we are willing to submit our lives to the Word. To recognise that our hearts wander and that we have to apply the truth of God to our lives and as we do something beautiful will be created. Lives that will be defined as wise.
I look to Stephan in the bible as a great example. When they went to select the first deacons they went and found seven men of good reputation, full of the spirit and wisdom. Seven men that are actively applying God’s truths to their lives. These men would be chosen by their fruit not by their knowledge. But they would first have to have the knowledge of God to apply it to their lives.
The church shouldn’t be attractive to people because it utilizes the false wisdom of the world. It should attractive because it doesn’t. It is attractive because God has laid it on a person’s heart to seek him out and when they find themselves in a conversation with a member of the church, they should feel the wisdom of God. The wisdom of gentle, peace loving, spirit filled men and women.
If we continue to strive to humble ourselves and to apply God’s word to our lives, what a place this will be. We need men and women and children who will live this way.
Will we be a replica or will we plant the seed and watch it grow.
Where are you at today?
See me after church.
Luke 22:19–20 CSB
19 And he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way he also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Romans 15:5–6
5 Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice.
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