Dec 2, 2018 – Wisdom that Works
Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series – James: Distilling Faith
James 3:13-18 (ESV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James pushes us to deal with things below the surface of our lives so that we become wise.
1. Are you learning, and does your life show it?
- v13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”
2. What is really shaping you?
- v14 “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts…”
- v15-16 “…this is earthly, unspiritual, demonic …there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
3. How can your life have a good outcome?
- v17 “But the wisdom from above is…”
- v18 “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
Questions for Reflection
- How does one become wise? What sorts of things do you have to do?
- Are you growing? Do you learn, change, improve? What do you experience as the greatest challenges to making changes?
- Is there a difference between ambition and selfish ambition? Compare and contrast them.
- What causes “bitter jealousy”? Think through some of the reasons people become jealous.
- How does egocentrism lead to “disorder and every vile practice”? How does this play out in families, work places, schools, nations, etc.? How does it prove ruinous to the egocentric individual?
- How can you discern when your desires or internal influences are corrupt? What can help you recognize egocentric forces pushing you forward before you act? What can you do to not be controlled by those forces?
- From your understanding of Jesus and/or reading the Bible, are there any places where Jesus acted with bitter jealousness or selfish ambition? Does the description of wisdom in James describe Jesus (pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere)?
- How does receiving mercy through Christ, and trusting him by joining your life with him, lead to wisdom? What should this look like as a Christian goes throughout the day? How do you live differently, and more wisely, as you walk with Christ as a disciple?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, we have been foolish. We are often driven by selfish ambition. Jealousy exists in our hearts, revealing our egotism and influencing our thoughts and actions. Our self centered ways have caused many problems. We pray for wisdom from above to come into our lives and change our hearts and minds. We ask that your peace would shape us so that our lives advance your peace. We remember, with thanks, Jesus who gave all so that we, the foolish, would become wise through trusting him. Amen.