The Godly Wisdom We Need

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Christianity Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Part 8: The Godly Wisdom We Need

James 3:13-18

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - April 1, 2012

*James 1:5 gives us one of the most practical promises in the Bible: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

*This great promise of wisdom is important to us all, because all of us need wisdom. We all need God’s kind of wisdom. And the Lord wants us to help us get it. James shows us how.

1. First: God wants to help us defeat worldly wisdom.

*Worldly wisdom is something that we all have to overcome, because all wisdom is not from above. James helps us see this starting in vs. 13, where he asks Christians:

13. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

14. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.

*The “self-seeking” he mentions in vs. 14 is “strife” in the KJV. -- It means a contentious heart, somebody looking for a fight, politicking in a bad way.

-It’s a factional spirit, seeking to jockey for position.

-It leads to doing things with an ulterior motive, even by conspiracy and deceit.

*And starting in vs. 15, James says:

15. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.

16. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there.

*All wisdom is not from above, and we must overcome the worldly wisdom in our hearts. In this chapter, James has just finished giving us the example of the evil that can come from our tongue. Please look back up at vs. 2-6, where James said:

2. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

3. Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.

4. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.

5. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

6. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

*Our tongues produce all kinds of evil misery, when they are led by the ungodly wisdom in our hearts. And unfortunately, we are all born with this sinful, selfish, worldly wisdom.

*Sometimes Mary and I like to watch “The Family Feud.” -- Once they had a question about little babies: What are the first words that little babies learn?

-Top 4 answers on the board: #1 was “Mama,” #2 was “Dada.” The 4th answer was “baba” for “bottle.”

*Guess what the #3 answer was. It was “NO!” One of the first words babies ever learn is, “No.” Why? -- Because we are all born with a selfish streak of stubbornness. We need to face up to this truth, and it should be obvious, because it shows up in the things we say.

*How big is this problem? -- So big that it is impossible for us to fix it on our own.

-As James said in vs. 7&8:

7. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.

8. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

*No man can tame the tongue. And we will never overcome the evil in our hearts without the help of Almighty God.

-But God wants to help us defeat worldly wisdom.

2. He also wants to help us develop Godly wisdom.

*In vs. 17 James gives us an amazing description of Godly wisdom. Here James said: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

[1] In this one verse God gives us 8 key characteristics of Godly wisdom, and the first characteristic is purity.

*As James said in vs. 17, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure. . .” This word “pure” comes from the same root-word as “holy.” So Godly wisdom is clean, innocent, modest, holy, pure. A.T. Robertson tells us it means “pure from fault, not half-good and half-bad...” (1)

*This takes us back to the tongue example James used starting in vs. 9. There he said:

9. With it (i.e. with our tongue) we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.

10. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

11. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?

12. Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh.

*Does a spring send forth both fresh water and bitter? Can a fig tree bear olives? Can a grapevine bear figs? Can a spring put out both salt water and fresh? Of course the answer is “No.”

*So we ought not to curse men with the same tongue we use to bless God. But the truth is that our lives tend to be a mixture of Godly wisdom and the impure wisdom of this world. We mix the bad with the good.

*Think about sparkling, pure filtered water. This is like the wisdom from above. Now think about scummy, muddy ditch water. Who wants a drink of that? How about half-and-half? -- But that’s our problem.

*God wants to give us the pure wisdom from above. It’s ours, if we will only ask Him for it in faith! So our life can overflow with God’s wisdom. But far too often there is something else mixed in: Selfishness, pride, envy, lust, gossip, hate, dishonesty; cruel and evil things.

*Christians, this is our problem, if we will admit it. By the grace of God, we’ve got some good in us, but we’ve also got some bad.

-We have used our tongues to praise the Lord today.

-But how else have we used our tongues this week?

*God is telling us here that we’ve got to stop mixing the bad with the good. We need more of God’s pure wisdom ruling in our hearts.

[2] In vs. 17: “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable. . .”

*This means Godly wisdom loves peace, and it seeks to be a peacemaker. One of the best things we can do is be a peacemaker for the Lord. You may remember Paul trying to be a peacemaker in Phil 4, where he said:

2. I implore (I beseech, beg, urge, plead) Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.

3. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.

*Euodia and Syntyche were having a fuss, just like we have sometimes with family and friends, at work, and even at church.

*We don’t know what their argument was about. It wasn’t important enough for Paul to even mention. We also don’t know who was to blame. Both of these women were good, Godly women. Both of them were saved. Both of them had worked together with Paul to spread the Good News about Jesus. But now they were fussing, and fighting. This reminds us that at times even the best of us don’t get along like we should.

*I read about an 8-year-old boy from Waterford CT who saved his sister’s life. His name was Zachary Bushwack, and he saved his 6-year-old sister, Meghan when she started choking on a piece of hard candy. Zachary noticed that Meghan wasn’t breathing, and gave her the Heimlich maneuver he had learned on TV.

*But Zachary and his sister were not getting along too well when the reporter came to do an article on the rescue. The headline in the paper said, “Waterford boy, 8, saves sister’s life.” But the secondary headline underneath quoted Zachary saying, “I wouldn't do it again. She's been a pain this week” (2)

*Has anybody been a pain in your life this week? Have you been a pain? -- Sometimes we are. But God wants us to be peacemakers. As Jesus said in Matt 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

[3] In vs. 17: The wisdom that is from above is peaceable, and it is gentle.

*This means it treats people with patience and gentleness. The unexpected word picture here is to resemble someone, to be a faint copy of someone. You see in all of these things, we are to be a picture of Jesus Christ.

[4] The wisdom from above is gentle, and it is “willing to yield” or as the KJV says, it is “easy to be entreated.” This means it’s not selfishly stubborn, but approachable and easily persuaded to do the right thing.

[5] Just like Jesus, the wisdom from above is also full of mercy. It’s compassionate and kind. It genuinely seeks to help those in need.

[6] The wisdom from above is also full of good fruits. He is talking about the good results of the good things we do when we live by Godly wisdom.

[7] Next, the wisdom from above is without partiality. It doesn’t judge people by the color of their skin, their intelligence, the prestige of their job or the money in their wallet. As the great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said: “Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace.” (3)

[8] The wisdom from above is without partiality, and lastly, it is without hypocrisy. That means it is not fake or phony. Godly wisdom is sincere.

*There is so much truth in this one short verse! Christians, this is the wisdom we need, and in all of these things we are a picture of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

*He loved us so much that He died on the cross for our sins. Thank God that Jesus rose again from the dead! Now the Risen Lord will give His eternal life to anyone who will receive Him as Savior and Lord. He will give us new life, His life, a life that can overflow with wisdom from above.

*But Church, we all need more of God’s pure wisdom ruling in our hearts, because we are all still a work in progress.

*One day Billy & Ruth Graham were driving through a long stretch of road construction. They had many slowdowns, detours and stops along the way. Finally, they reached the end of that mess, and smooth road stretched out ahead.

*That’s when a sign caught Ruth Graham’s attention. The sign said: “End of construction. Thanks for your patience.” And Ruth told Billy those words would be a great inscription on her tombstone:

-“End of construction... -- Thanks for your patience.” (4)

*That’s true for every believer. We are still under construction. That’s the truth.

-But God wants to help us develop Godly wisdom...

3. He also wants to help us demonstrate Godly wisdom.

*God wants other people to see a demonstration of His wisdom in our lives. So back up in vs. 13, James said, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” Then in vs. 18, he said: “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

*Godly wisdom will bear fruit in our lives. There will be proof. There will be a demonstration.

*Several years ago, a McClendon friend gave me a great testimony of this proof. His name was Kenneth Berry, and at the time he was in the hospital with critical lung trouble. That day Kenneth told me something about his sister-in-law who had passed away the week before. Her name was Gay Moody, and Kenneth regretted that he couldn’t go to the funeral, but of course, there was no way.

*Kenneth told me something special that happened at the funeral, something that the pastor did. He started asking questions:

-“If anyone here was ever helped by Gay, would you please stand up?”

-“If she ever helped you with some groceries, please stand up.”

-“If she ever helped you with a bill, please stand up.”

-“If she ever offered to pray for you, please stand up.”

*Kenneth said that after a few minutes, everybody in that church was standing. Gay Moody touched a lot of lives, because she overflowed with the wisdom from above.

-She overflowed with the Godly wisdom of Jesus Christ: Pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

*That’s the kind of wisdom we need, and that’s the kind of wisdom we can have.

-Let’s ask God for it right now.

-But you must start by opening your heart to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.

-Would you please bow for prayer.

1. “Robertson’s Word Pictures” by A.T. Robertson - James 3:17


3. Spurgeon quote found at

4. SermonCentral illustration contributed by Paul Fritz

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