Wisdom from Above

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Who is Wise

James 3:13–15 ESV
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
Notice that the beginnings of this passage looks to see if you are wise. Then in 4:1 you are asked what causes us to war with each other.
James 4:1 ESV
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
Now we are to understand that those who are truly wise get their wisdom from above. The true conflict in this passage is between saying that we are wise and admitting that we quarrel. Can we truly be wise and also quarrel? The truth really is that we are not always wise, are we.
This other day, I was on the phone with IU Health facilities about a phone call from a collection agency. You see when I go through these things I tend to become quarrelsome. In these moments I also can become unwise and my direction does not come from above. You see, what drives me crazy is that in agreement with the IU Health facilities and the United Methodist Church, pastors bills beyond their co-pays is wiped clean. In other words, by their agreement with the UMC, pastors do not pay anything beyond what the insurance pays. Here lies the problem though, we get billed all the time for the extra, sometimes you wait and it takes care of itself, other times we wait and get a call from a collections agency. I called IU billing department and get apologized to for the inconvenience.
So why do I go to this story? Perhaps to let you know that although we could all say that from time-to-time we are all wise, but if you think you are always wise, you might not be so wise.
James 3:15 ESV
This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
Earthly, and unspiritual, these are the words of scripture to describe things of jealousy and selfishness.
So wisdom that comes from above is first pure. To be pure we must not be defiled by unholy things. I heard of a time when we were supposed to be undefiled before marriage. That is mostly a word from the past. Secondly, it is peaceable. That did not describe me while talking to the nice lady from billing. Gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, impartial and sincere. These words did not describe my actions while on the phone, perhaps sincerely perturbed.
So why is it that our hearts are troubled by things that make us fight and quarrel? (ESV)
Warning Against Worldliness
4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? Scripture tells us that we want and do not have so we murder. The first murder recorded, in the Bible, Cain finds reason to kill his own brother because he covets the blessings he has received from God.
I remember as a young boy, my brothers and I argued over everything that the other received. Our parents would always try and find new ways to divide things so that we were happy. Often times we would argue over a piece of cake and we would have to divide it up. We would then argue that he got the bigger portion. Then we would have to argue that we wanted to cut the piece and of course we were not fair so the one who cut the cake would have the second choice in the pieces. Seriously, we argued about these simple things.
James 4:3 ESV
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
This verse has always been a dispute when it comes to what many call prosperity gospel. (ESV)
2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. Prosperity gospel preachers like to remind their flock that the reason they do not have is because they have not asked. But notice what verse 3 brings to the conversation, you do not receive, because you ask wrongly. Cain couldn’t stand the thought that Abel received a better blessing than he did. Perhaps this is more about how he brought the offering?
We often times ask God to fill our cup up with our desires, and then wonder why we do not receive.
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