Have you ever had anyone cut in front of you while you were standing in line? And you just can’t believe they would do such a thing. It’s as if you are non-existent and everything revolves around them. Or how about the person who gets all bent out of shape when the get cut off in traffic? Man, people just go nuts over this…Honking, yelling, flipping people off. Why do you think instances like this happen?
I believe that inside of humans is the tendency to want life to be about them. I mean, look at commercials today…they are all about how you can live the best life and have lots of fun! Everyone just wants to be happy and wants everything around them to be for their happiness, right?
I mean, who doesn’t want to be happy?
But as we come to a passage in the Bible like James chapter 3, we see that the Bible speaks to something different than life being about us. Actually, the language is fairly strong in regards to selfishness and envy and jealousy.
I believe one of the mistakes many people tend to make is this: We think that life is about us and that God exists in order to make our life better.
We want to believe that God is for us and all about us; and he just spends his time trying to figure out how to help our lives be better. And harshly enough, I don’t believe that is what the Bible teaches.
Look at James 3:13-18.
James poses a question here after he has been talking about our faith that produces works and how we ought to love God and people more as our faith grows. And he addresses the idea of guarding what you say by listening to what is in your heart. And then he asks this question:
Who among you is wise and understanding? Who has this life thing figured out?
Show me. I want to see your life in action to see what being wise really looks like. How many of you know that people can be good at talking, but not always good at acting? Most people can justify in their own mind that they are wise, but living it out is a different story. And James is big into seeing the proof of life in Christ. It is as if he is saying, “Show me what Jesus has changed in your life.” So then he presents us with 2 different types of wisdom: A right way of living in Christ and a false way of living.
Look at this comparison of the two…
Earthly: Sees only what is right in front of you…focused on the here and now rather than on an eternity.
Unspiritual: Has no understanding or value of the Holy Spirit…struggles to allow God to be in control.
Demonic: A life organized based on lies…believing that your ways are somehow better than God’s ways.
*This type of wisdom leads to confusion and all sorts of evil…one of selfishness.
Pure: A striving to not give into impure thoughts and actions
Peace-Loving: Consciously avoiding disagreement and conflict with others
Considerate: To be aware of and to acknowledge the feelings of others
Submissive: Willing to accept the authority and input of people in your life
Full of mercy: Showing forgiveness towards those who are deserving of punishment
Full of good fruit: Avoids bitter and distasteful actions and words
Sincere: To live true, genuine, and heartfelt lives
*This type of wisdom produces a life that is in right standing with God…one of righteousness.
This is pretty straightforward. How do you know where you are at in wisdom? You take the list of false wisdom and you take the list of true wisdom and you hold them up next to your life. This is why I love the writing of James. He just tells it like it is…there is no abstract thinking here. You don’t need a pretty example or illustration for this. Just look at your life and see what is being produced out of it.
Proverbs 14:12 says this:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
You know what true wisdom requires? It requires you to be honest with yourself. You have to recognize that you are not where you should be, and to be discontent with staying there. It is the idea that if you stay where you are now, you will never be able to move closer to God.
And check this out in Proverbs 8…
“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water, before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.
True wisdom exists before the world was being formed because true wisdom is found through Jesus. The world will constantly try to offer you wisdom and you can always be sure that the wisdom offered by the world is a false wisdom.