TESTS THAT PROVE OUR FAITH: The Evidence of Wisdom

“Tests that Prove Our Faith: The Evidence of Wisdom”
James 3:13-18
 
INTRODUCTION: Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45). The way we speak reflects our inner spiritual state and who is in control of our lives. James warns teachers that they will be judged more strictly by what they say and teach (3:1). Therefore, we need to examine what we are being taught. How can we discern what is true from what is false? What is genuine from what is counterfeit? What is wise counsel or foolish advice?  What is divine wisdom or worldly wisdom? James gives us a checklist of traits that shows if a person is trustworthy or bogus in James 3:13-18. Wisdom is known by the results it produces.
 
GODLY TEACHERS COMPARED TO UNGODLY TEACHERS.
 
*The practical and trained teacher is marked by good behavior and a gentle spirit. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (13).
 
*The counterfeit and self-serving teacher creates division and strife. He or she is jealous, ambitious, arrogant and deceptive.  “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth” (14).
 
EARTHLY WISDOM CONTRASTED TO HEAVENLY WISDOM.
 
*The traits of false and counterfeit wisdom expose their source. “Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (15-16).
 
  • Earthly (limited to earth, earthbound)
  • Natural (unspiritual, sensuous, or animal life)
  • Demonic (demon-like)
  • Jealous and ambitious motivation
  • Results in disharmony and cruel evil
 
*Genuine wisdom begins with purity and comes from above.  “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure…” (17).
 
*James organizes the six characteristics of heavenly wisdom into three categories:
 
  • Attitude: The attitude of the wise person is peaceable, gentle, and reasonable – “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive…” (17).
 
  • Action: The wise person puts the words of Jesus into action by being compassionate and doing kind deeds – “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then…full of mercy and good fruit…” (17).
 
  • Assessment – The wise person is fair and unbiased in making decisions or settling disputes and highly respected for it in the community. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then…impartial and sincere (17).
 
*People of heavenly wisdom are peacemakers and they reap a harvest of righteousness. “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (18).
 

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