Peninsula Community Church
May 12, 2013
Spiritual Wisdom Part 2
James 3:13-18 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. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
As I was planning for Mother’s Day, I considered several possibilities and several different directions that could be taken this morning. As I did so, I realized that the message was already in front of me. The fact is the list available to us through this passage gives us the tools to examine who we are and what we are to be not only as mothers but as passionate followers of Christ.
Today, we will continue to look at the book of James and we will continue our study today, on spiritual wisdom. Last week we looked at earthly, natural, and demonic wisdom. Today, we will look at the attributes of spiritual wisdom. As we noted last week, James lists several attributes and characteristics of spiritual wisdom.
While James defined earthly wisdom this week will look at the definition of Spiritual wisdom. Last week we saw that James qualified earthly wisdom as being rooted in selfish ambition and bitter jealousy. James not only qualified what earthly wisdom might look like but he also qualified what spiritual wisdom should be. Below, we will Look at this list of qualifiers for spiritual wisdom. What we understand is that true wisdom is not selfish or boastful.
The first qualifier of spiritual wisdom is that it is pure. The Greek word here is agnos. The original usage of the word signified “that which awakens awe.” Later it began to be used for the ritual of ceremonial cleaning which related back to the temple in the Old Testament. One who is pure has been purified and they are unstained by the world. Clayton a few weeks ago noted that we must remain unstained by the world and the world’s ways. True spiritual wisdom is pure and undefiled by the world’s ways and the world’s motivation and mindsets. The idea of pure here is the idea of a garment that is not soiled by the dirt of the world. This does not mean that one lives a perfectly sinless life, but it does mean that they strive to live sinless to the degree that they are able to and that they take care of any stains before they have time to set in and damage the soul. It means also that they keep a clean slate of wrongs and issues of sin. This particular quality speaks to the condition of the heart. It is for this reason that David in his Psalm of forgiveness (Psalm 51:10) cries out to God to “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Jesus, himself, spoke to his disciples and said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Purity of heart is one of the qualities on living in spiritual wisdom. James understood here the necessity of walking with a pure heart.
The second qualifier of spiritual wisdom is that it is peaceable. The usage of this word in the languages of James day is enlightening. In the original writings, the word denotes a friendly word of a man as opposed to a divisive rather warlike word. The words one speaks should be distinguished between hard and harsh and the words one speaks softly. God’s wisdom brings peace. In the church when God’s wisdom is evident there is peace. Have you known anyone that enjoyed stirring up trouble and strife. Some they couch this in desire for truth or desire to bring healing when in reality they are only stirring up strife and division. They seem to get a thrill at doing this. They attempt to manufacture or take statements out of context in order to prove their point but in essence they stir up strife and disunity in the body of Christ. James here says that God’s wisdom seeks to bring peace and not strife. It seeks to bring healing and not destruction. Remember that peace is not the absence of strife but it is the evidence of peace in the midst of strife and evil. Listen here to what Paul says. Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11). If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18).
The third qualifier of spiritual wisdom is that it is gentle. The word used here is one that denotes rulership and how one must rule. They must do so with all gentleness. God’s wisdom is not harsh. Truth can be painful but the one speaking the truth does not have be harsh. Instead it is gentle and it is life giving. Have you ever been confronted by someone who is harsh and bitter. They are like a bull in a china shop. They leave a wake of injury and they wound whoever is in their way. The is that too often the one guilty of such action is not aware of what they are doing. They are everything but gentle. The quality of gentleness is a fruit of the spirit. The problem we have with gentleness is that we often confuse directness with a lack gentleness (Galatians 5:23). Paul also speaks to this issue of being gentle when he communicates they we must serve the Lord with all humility and gentleness (Ephesians 4:2).
The fourth qualifier of spiritual wisdom is that it is open to reason. This exhibits an approachable spirit. This speaks to one who is open to discussion and to new ways of thinking. Spiritual wisdom means that one is teachable. It means that they have not arrived at some level of intellect that they do not need instruction from others. This also means that the one who exhibits spiritual wisdom is not defiant and stubborn. They are open to reason. Another way to look at this is that he or she is not set their ways. They are open to learn new things and new ways of doing things. When error has been pointed out they are open to the reasoning of others.
The fifth qualifier of spiritual wisdom is that it is full of mercy. Spiritual wisdom is gracious and merciful to others. Remember earlier that James says that mercy should triumph over judgement. James returns to this thought by reminding us that spiritual wisdom exhibits a life of mercy and forgiveness. One who lacks mercy does not know how to show another grace. Once again we must not confuse mercy with speaking the truth in love. Spiritual wisdom is merciful, as it recognizes that except by the grace of God we might be in the same place and might be struggling with same sin we see in others.
The sixth qualifier of spiritual wisdom is that it is full of good fruits. A person’s source of wisdom is defined by the kind of fruit they exhibit in their life. When you look at a person’s life what do you see? Are they manifesting fruit that shows Christ in a good a light? We must remember that fruit and not one’s gifts are the measure of a man’s life. Now this does not mean that one’s gifts and talents are not important; it does mean that the exhibition of character is manifested through the fruit of one’s life. A few weeks ago a couple of us went to the FCA dinner. The speaker of the evening shared a message where he compared talent with character. Character always trumps talent. So it is spiritually, our fruit always trumps our gifts.
The seventh qualifier of spiritual wisdom is that it is impartial. James returns to this idea of showing impartiality. True spiritual wisdom is found in the capacity to show impartiality. I am reminded of what a friend of Michelle said about her. She stated, “Whoever Michelle is with, she makes them feel like they are her best friend.” That is the wisdom that is spiritual.
The eighth qualifier of spiritual wisdom is that it is sincere – True spiritual wisdom is sincere. It is not fake. It does presume on others. It doesn’t not say one thing and then do something else.
There is one thing that could be said about spiritual wisdom. True spiritual wisdom does not have to be forced. Spiritual wisdom is displayed the best when we think about it the least. It is a supernatural natural outcome of a life committed to follow Christ.
First, we must make a real evaluation of our lives. We must take inventory of where we are and the areas of change needed. So what if we find that we are falling short in any of these? James has the answer. He states in James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.