James Chapter 3:13-18 / 13 Who among you is wise and intelligent? Let him by his good conduct show his [good] deeds with the gentleness and humility of true wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be arrogant, and [as a result] be in defiance of the truth. 15 This [superficial] wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly (secular), natural (unspiritual), even demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder [unrest, rebellion] and every evil thing and morally degrading practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile]. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness (spiritual maturity) is sown in peace by those who make peace [by actively encouraging goodwill between individuals].
Chapter 4 – What leads to [the unending] [a]quarrels and conflicts among you? Do they not come from your [hedonistic] desires that wage war in your [bodily] members [fighting for control over you]? 2 You are jealous and covet [what others have] and [b]your lust goes unfulfilled; so you [c]murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God]. 3 You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, because you ask [d]with wrong motives [out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires. 4 You adulteresses [disloyal sinners—flirting with the world and breaking your vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend [that is, loving the things of the world] is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Have you ever truly wondered why it’s even important to God the decisions we make and the conduct we show? Does He really care or does He expect us to use the sound minds He gave us and determine all on our own what is right or wrong for our own life? Does He have principles, rules, commands and boundaries for us to apply to our life, or does He want us to decide for ourselves what “holy living” should look like and then simply create our own code of beliefs that we put into practice?
*As you just read what I was asking you, what thoughts came to your mind? Please don’t shy away from giving this some thought – some slow-it-down thought. Your ‘religious mind’ may have immediately thought a certain way, but really go back and slowly read it again, and think about your own life – all areas of it – and think.
A Christian way of thinking is not just thinking Christian thoughts, singing Christian songs, reading Christian books, going to Christian schools; it is learning to think about the whole spectrum of life from the perspective of a mind that has been trained in truth. – Alistair Begg
What are you thinking? Simply jot down some words or phrases that surface as you ponder on what I was asking – which is basically this, “What does the wisdom of God look like?”
You see, in verse 13 of James 3, we read that what and how and why we make decisions is to actually show in our conduct. Like a hunter shows in his conduct what and how he thinks. A baker shows in their conduct what and how they think. A farmer shows in his conduct what and how he thinks. So, when it comes to being a person of godly wisdom, shouldn’t there be conduct about our life that shows how and what we think?
Our conduct reflects two things - what and how we think - and that will never change in the life of any human being. - Lisa RippyClick To Tweet
of doing good deeds for others is to be gentle and humble as it is motivated by the true wisdom of God. When we are doing anything for anyone with God’s character of wisdom being why and how we care for them, it is to show in how we conduct ourselves – gentle and humble.
But verse 14 says that if we have bitter jealousy, selfish ambition in our motives, it will show in being arrogant. And that arrogance is not wisdom – that is superficiality on display!
Superficial wisdom is simply an earthly, secular, natural, unspiritual and even demonic way of creating beliefs, decisions, and habits. We can live on this earth our entire lives and be such good-deed-doers, but if what we are doing is for our own selves to feel proud or accomplished, if what we are doing for others is motivated with selfish gain or self ambition, then all that we are doing is no longer “good” but James 3:16 calls it evil. Wait! Did I just say that we can actually be a good-deed-doer and yet the bible will call our actions evil? That is exactly right…according to James 3:16. That sounds so harsh, but the truth is that God loves us so very much that He already has everything we need for a redeemed and blessed and prosperous life. We experience that complete and abundant life when we obey (apply) His wisdom to our decisions and then His wisdom will show in our conduct.
Godly wisdom starts with a respect and reverence for and of God and results in a holy life. Worldly wisdom, on the other hand, is not concerned with honoring God but with pleasing oneself. With worldly wisdom, we may become educated, street-smart, and have “common sense” that enables us to play the world’s game successfully. Godly wisdom enables us to prepare ourselves for eternity. With godly wisdom, we trade earthly values for biblical values (1 John 2:15–16). We recognize we are citizens of another kingdom, and we make choices that reflect that allegiance (Philippians 1:27; 3:20). Having godly wisdom means we strive to see life from God’s perspective and act accordingly.
Read verse 16 in James 3 and place a circle around the words that seem to be jumping off the page –
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder [unrest, rebellion] and every evil thing and morally degrading practice.”
Have you ever been around anyone, or maybe a group of people, where you immediately discerned that there was jealousy among some of them? There was pride? Selfish ambition? You picked up on the rebelliousness and maybe even some secular and worldly ways of thinking? What else was present or rather missing? Let me guess …. Peace was missing. Sincerity wasn’t there. Bullish behaviors were heard in how some may have been speaking or treating people around them. Condescending language. Disorder. Pride.
You see James 3:16 tells us so plainly that when we do not seek and apply the wisdom of God, then we are GOING TO experience all the above…and more! Because when we are no longer operating under the wisdom of God, we are operating under the wisdom of the world – it’s an earthly wisdom that nudges us to do what comes natural. What comes natural? Attitudes like: bitterness, jealousy, envy, pride, selfish ambition, self-allegiance, revenge, greed, materialism, self-pity, unrighteous anger, prayerlessness, being controlling, people pleasing, and and being judgmental.
Yuck!! I just have to stop for a moment while typing all this and say, oh how I long to not nurse attitudes like this! Oh the pain they cause and the damage they can do! I don’t want such wretchedness and I pray the second any such thought pops in my head, that I will fiercely take it captive and bring it under the Mastery of Jesus Christ!! Satan is subtle, ya’ll, and he will do his best to create in us this ever so slight desire to begin thinking in any of those ways and attitudes.
May we hold fast to Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”
We can also develop godly wisdom by carefully selecting those who journey through life with us: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Paul instructed the Corinthians to “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1).
Those who want godly wisdom will choose for their heroes those who exhibit wisdom in their personal lives. ***gotquestions.org
Scripture tells us to ask for godly wisdom: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). God wants us to have His wisdom. He is delighted to give it to us when our hearts are set to receive it. God knows the position of our hearts. When we are committed to trusting Him and obeying His Word, He pours out His wisdom on us (see Jeremiah 29:13). But if we want to retain the right to disobey, we are double-minded and may not receive the wisdom we ask for.
According to James 4, anyone who is involved in envy and strife is confused. Period. The Bible clearly states that. This confusion corrupts something, too, that is meant to be very precious. This confusion corrupts … relationships. It is impossible to have a genuine, loving and warm relationship with anyone where there is envy and jealousy and strife. You may love them dearly, but the relationship can not be and will not be all that it could be when there is jealousy and strife. They are twins of total destruction. I’ve seen them do quite the damage in family lives and among friends. Those twin attitudes don’t “break up” either. Where you find one, (envy/jealousy), you will find the other (strife/discord). Those two evils MUST be crucified before we can experience the joy and peace meant for us as children of God who seek the wisdom of God.
That is why we see in verse 17 –
“But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile].”
Let’s take each descriptive word and term from verse 17 and make a list. (see below)
These words/terms describe a person’s conduct, (what they will show), who is living their life with God’s wisdom as their what, why and how in how they think and act. It’s like we asked at the beginning of this study, “What does the wisdom of God look like?” Will there be outward signs of someone who is walking in the wisdom of God? Well, we just read quite the list.
As you look over that list slowly, place a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, out beside each attribute ranking how you personally see yourself feeling and demonstrating…1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. The only reason why I am asking you to do this, is because it is a way to slow our minds down to a place where we pause – ponder – and prayerfully allow the Holy Spirit time to reveal things in us. It’s also a way for us to examine ourselves, search ourselves with Him to see if there are offensive ways in us, and where we may need to focus our own prayers of repentance. Where we may need to devote more disciplined attention.
Purity – morally and spiritually
Willing to listen
Full of compassion
Good fruits – which are good deeds
Unwavering – loyal/trustworthy/dependable in all relationships
Without self-righteous hypocrisy
Without self-serving guile
Write a prayer to the Lord about what you are thinking right now. It may be only a 1 sentence prayer, or you may want to take this time to write out a confession, write out a desperate need, present a very specific request to Him while thanking Him for something that you know has come directly from Him to you.
The source of problems is the conflict between: 1) desires for pleasure and, 2) desires for God’s will. The desire for God’s will is the attitude the Holy Spirit places in us. Which this leads us to something that I really want to encourage us to stop – ponder – meditate with God about – and ask the Spirit to search us and reveal to us every single area of our life that may have THIS seed trying to root in us. The seed of “pleasure the world’s way.”
You see, the world will tell you that something is right or ok for you, while at the same time God’s Word tells you completely the opposite. The world will tell you in order to be doing something correctly or successfully you must be doing something a certain way, while God and His Word will say something totally opposite.
The world tells us to ignore, shun and avoid at all costs our enemies – those who hate and despise and reject us and bring us harm. Where Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (fellow man) and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven;
I placed in red the words, “show yourselves to” because there we find once again that when a person is walking in the wisdom of God, it will show! Their conduct will show it! There will be those outward signs that make it obvious. The world tells us to dream big and make big plans, where God’s Word tells us to “Delight ourselves in the Lord and HE WILL GIVE US the desires (dreams) of our heart.” Psalm 37:4
Think about this – what other 3-4 examples can you write down where the world tells us one thing, yet the Bible tells us completely the opposite? Write them down in the space below:
Now, there is a word that describes “living for pleasure” and it’s the word hedonistic. And that is what James is talking about in verses 1-5 in chapter 4. I want to ask you to read these verses from the Message translation and then there is something I want to ask you:
1 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care?
Here’s what I want to ask you — After reading those verses, did they read you? What came to your mind and heart? I want you to feel totally safe right now in the presence of God and say out loud to Him what you are feeling and thinking, while understanding that your Maker cares very deeply about you and what concerns you.
Now, there is a Christian Hedonism that I would love for you to read about. John Piper coined this phrase, “Christian Hedonism” because as he studied Scripture he had this to say about hedonistic desires…(get ready…it’s not what you may be thinking.) Just click on the link below.
So, you may be thinking that living with the fullest pleasure in God, seeking His wisdom and having His wisdom to be the what, why and how in you, well, does it sound too lofty? Too unattainable? Do you honestly just want to know where to start and that is, “How can I first just get wisdom from God?”
Then, I found this article online and I want to pass it on to you – CLICK HERE
It’s very short, but the most accurate I have found in actually providing us with a starting point. And what I loved about reading this article the most is the very last sentence of the article….BUT, be sure to scroll down and read it FIRST, then go back to the top and read the full article because here’s why – I truly want that last sentence to be what warms and comforts your entire soul, as you read all about how to get and enjoy the valuable wisdom of God, from His heart to yours!
I love you,