Morning Bible Study
If you are interested in going with us to the Angel Game July 26, we need
you to buy your tickets now – we have to give the Angels our final ticket
reservation number tomorrow.
You, or someone in your group are also going to need to download the MLB
BallPark App for us to distribute the tickets to you.
The book of James is possibly one of the earliest things written in the New
It’s thought to have been written around AD 40-50
It was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus.
James’ father was Joseph, while Jesus’ father was God.
Though James didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah until after the
resurrection, James would eventually be recognized as the leader of the church
James was known in the early church as “James the Just” because of his
great devotion to God and purity of life.
Ancient historian Eusebius describes James’ prayer life, that he…
was frequently found upon his knees begging
forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a
camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and
asking forgiveness for the people
While the apostle Paul wrote mainly to Gentiles, James is writing to the
His teachings are going to be very practical (hence our “tools” pic) and
will draw much from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as well as the book of
:13 Who is wise
and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works
are done in the meekness of wisdom.
:13 Who is wise and understanding
wise – sophos – wise
understanding – epistemon –
intelligent, experienced, one having the knowledge of an expert
This is the only time this noun is used in the NT
from – epistamai – to put
one’s attention on, to be acquainted with, to understand
a knowledge obtained by proximity to the thing known
The verb form is used a little bit more – 14 times in NT.
(1 Timothy 6:3–5
NKJV) —3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome
words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine
which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing,
but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy,
strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless
wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that
godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
The value of testing
Back in chapter one, James wrote,
(James 1:5 NKJV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all
liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
The question is, how do I know if the solution I’ve been
given is truly from God or not?
Just because you pray for wisdom, and you think you have a
solution to the difficult thing you’re facing, doesn’t mean it’s the answer
that God has given you.
We have a pool at home, and I have to regularly test the water to make sure
the chlorine and pH levels are correct.
When they are off, I have to adjust what’s wrong by adding
the appropriate chemicals.
If I don’t respond to the test, I end up with a green
pool, or eyes that sting.
James is going to give us some qualities of “real” wisdom that will act as
a test for the decisions we are making.
Premed students at Washington University in St. Louis are
required to take a difficult class in physics.
One day the professor was discussing a particularly
complicated concept. A student rudely interrupted to ask, “Why do we have to
learn this stuff?” “To save lives,” the professor responded quickly and
continued the lecture. A few minutes later, the same student spoke up again,
“So how does physics save lives?” she persisted. “It keeps the ignorant out of
medical school,” replied the professor.
The qualities of wisdom we’ll look at can serve as a test, to make sure we keep
out “fake” wisdom.
:13 Let him show by good conduct
let him show – deiknuo –
expose to the eyes; to give evidence or proof of a thing; to show by words or
aorist active imperative
James used this word “show” back in chapter 2:
(James 2:18 NKJV) But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show
me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my
Faith isn’t the only thing that can be “seen”.
Godly wisdom should also be “seen” by our “good conduct”, how we live our
good – kalos –
beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful,
suitable, commendable, admirable
conduct – anastrophe
– manner of life, conduct, behavior, deportment
Your “conduct” is how you live your life. It’s what kind
of person you show yourself to be.
:13 works are done in the meekness of wisdom
works – ergon – business,
employment, that which any one is occupied; that which one undertakes to do,
enterprise, undertaking; any product whatever, anything accomplished by hand,
art, industry, or mind; an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is
emphasized in opp. to that which is less than work
wisdom – sophia – wisdom,
broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters
This is what people will look at to see whether or not we are truly “wise”
according to God’s standards.
meekness – πραΰτης prautes – mildness of disposition, friendly, pleasant, gentle,
“Meekness” is the opposite of anger and pride.
Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His
dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the
OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to
defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing
God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify
His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time. (#Isa 41:17, Lu 18:1-8) Gentleness or meekness is the
opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s
goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with
self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will. (#Ga 5:23)
(Matthew 5:5 NKJV) Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Jesus described Himself when He said,
11:29 NKJV) Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I
am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Our first characteristic of godly wisdom is “meekness”
:14 But if you have
bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the
:15 This wisdom does not
descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
:14 bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts
NLT translates this phrase “bitterly jealous”
envy – zelos – excitement
of mind, ardor, fervor of spirit; zeal, ardor in embracing, pursuing, defending
anything; an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy
bitter – pikros – bitter;
metaph. harsh, virulent
self-seeking – ἐριθεία
eritheia – electioneering or
intriguing for office; a desire to put one’s self forward
All you have to do is watch any political debate to understand this word.
Other versions (NLT, ESV) translate this as “selfish ambition”
In other words, your life is “all about me”.
Aristotle used this word to describe those pursuing political office by any
means, even if it is unfair.
I confess I didn’t watch the Democratic debates this week, but every debate
I’ve seen is the same. The whole point is for the candidate to get you to like
them and their ideas, even if it means trashing someone else or stretching the
Here is a test for fake wisdom – what’s in your heart?
:14 do not boast and lie against the truth
boast – katakauchaomai – to
glory against, to exult over, to boast one’s self to the injury (of a person or
present middle imperative
lie – pseudomai – to lie,
to speak deliberate falsehoods; to deceive one by a lie, to lie to
present middle imperative
In other words, if you have envy or selfishness, don’t claim that your
“wisdom” has come from God as an answer to your prayer.
It comes from somewhere else…
:15 This wisdom does not descend from above
descend – katerchomai – to
come down, go down
present middle participle
from above – anothen –
from above, from a higher place
This kind of “wisdom” was not the answer to your prayer for wisdom.
:15 but is earthly, sensual, demonic
earthly – in other words, your worldly, unbelieving friends might
give you this advice.
earthly – epigeios –
existing upon the earth, earthly, terrestrial
sensual – ψυχικός psuchikos – of the “soul”; the sensuous nature with its
appetites and passions
Other versions translate this as “unspiritual” (ESV) or “natural” (NAS)
demonic – there could be a spiritual component to your idea, but
it’s not from God, it’s from the other place.
demonic – daimoniodes –
resembling or proceeding from an evil spirit, demon-like
Peter had a taste of wisdom from above when Jesus asked, “Who do you say I
NKJV) —16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the
living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah,
for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father
who is in heaven.
Yet shortly after, Peter had a taste of the other kind of wisdom:
NKJV) —21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go
to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter
took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this
shall not happen to You!” 23 But He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful
of the things of God, but the things of men.”
We need to be careful about where our “wisdom” comes from.
It’s not hard to take our answers from what the world thinks is right.
The world has an entirely different set of standards that may look right on
the outside, but end up leading people in the wrong direction.
For example, when it comes to sexuality, the world thinks things are
“right” based on what “feels right”, while things are “wrong” if they seem “harmful”
These perceptions change with the culture. What seemed “right” twenty years
ago no longer seems right.
We have a different standard, one that doesn’t change.
Our standard is God’s Word.
:16 For where envy and
self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
:16 confusion and every evil thing are there
These are the things that come from envy and self-seeking.
envy – zelos – excitement
of mind, ardor, fervor of spirit; an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy
self-seeking – eritheia –
electioneering or intriguing for office; apparently, in the NT a courting
distinction, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and fractious
spirit which does not disdain low arts; partisanship, fractiousness; This word
is found before NT times only in Aristotle where it denotes a self-seeking
pursuit of political office by unfair means.
confusion – ἀκαταστασία akatastasia – instability, a state of disorder, confusion
I can’t help but think of the confusion there has been over the last few years
over “gender identity”.
Our world no longer is willing to base gender on simple biological fact,
but what you think you are deep down inside.
The world wants to hide the fact 40%
of trangenders have tried suicide.
evil – φαῦλος phaulos – worthless; good for nothing
thing – πρᾶγμα pragma – a deed; what is done or being accomplished
These are things that flow from bad wisdom, earthly wisdom.
(James 3:16 ESV) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be
disorder and every vile practice.
:17 But the wisdom that
is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of
mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
:17 the wisdom that is from above is first …
James’ list overlaps several other lists in the New Testament.
The Fruit of the Spirit:
NKJV) —22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against
such there is no law.
Things we’re supposed to meditate on:
4:8 NKJV) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true,
whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever
things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are
of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything
praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
from above – anothen –
from above, from a higher place
Here are James’ definitions of heavenly wisdom.
Think about the kinds of decisions you are currently seeking answers
for. Stack up your choices against these
…pure… (untranslated word) - men
- truly, certainly, surely, indeed
“the wisdom from above is first truly pure”
pure – ἁγνός hagnos – exciting reverence, sacred; pure from carnality,
Are the decisions you’re facing related to purity at all? Do they make you follow
after God? Are they connected to your sinful desires?
Let’s say you’re faced with the choice of what you’re going to do with your
Picture yourself with Jesus. Would He be pleased with the choice you make? Would
you feel comfortable with Jesus coming along with you on your date night?
peaceable – εἰρηνικός eirenikos – relating to peace; peace loving
God’s wisdom is often accompanied with peace.
3:15 NKJV) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts…
Does this mean that every decision God wants you to make is “easy”?
Easy and peaceful are not necessarily the same thing.
You can have a godly peace about something and still be in
the middle of some pretty difficult times.
God’s wisdom promotes peace between people, not strife.
3:15 The Message) Let the peace of Christ keep you in
tune with each other, in step with each other.
God’s desire is that we work at making peace with others, not a peace at
all costs, but a healthy peace. Paul wrote,
12:18 NKJV) If it is possible, as much as depends on you,
live peaceably with all men.
Every godly decision may not result in peace with others,
but we need to be sure to be doing our part.
gentle – ἐπιεικής epieikes – suitable; equitable, fair, gentle
Isaiah spoke of the Messiah when he wrote,
12:20 NKJV) A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking
flax He will not quench…
Jesus doesn’t kick people when they’re down.
When the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus and the Pharisees
demanded He pronounce judgment, Jesus said that anyone without sin could go
ahead and throw the first stone.
(John 8:10–11 NKJV)
—10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He
said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned
you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no
willing to yield – εὐπειθής eupeithes – easily persuaded, compliant
This is in contrast with the earthly wisdom which is “self-seeking”.
We ought to be willing to take the time to listen to the other person and
yield to them if that’s the right thing.
Sometimes we make up our minds about a situation a little too quickly, and
we’re unwilling to listen to any other input.
18:17 NLT) The first to speak in court sounds right— until
the cross-examination begins.
The problem comes when we make up our mind based on the
first piece of information we’ve received instead of thoroughly investigating a
We are being a fool if we don’t take time to listen fully to the other
18:13 NKJV) He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is
folly and shame to him.
Sometimes we simply don’t take the time to listen to people and make sure
we’ve heard them correctly.
Three old guys are out walking. First one says, “Windy,
isn’t it?” Second one says, “No, it’s Thursday!” Third one says, “So am I.
Let’s go get a soda.”
A man was telling his neighbor, “I just bought a new
hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it’s state of the art. It’s
perfect.” “Really,” answered the neighbor. “What kind is it?” “Twelve thirty.”
full of – mestos – full
full of mercy – ἔλεος eleos – kindness or good will towards
the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them
James has already used this word to speak about how we “judge” others:
(James 2:13 NKJV) For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
(Matthew 7:2 NKJV) For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the
measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
Wisdom from above has its roots in mercy.
Though sometimes we make decisions based on being judgmental or even worse,
out of revenge.
On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus decided to stop at Jericho for a meal and
perhaps spend the night.
There was a man in town considered a great sinner – the Jewish tax
collector named Zacchaeus. Being small,
he was watching Jesus from a tree.
(Luke 19:5 NKJV) And when Jesus came to the place, He
looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for
today I must stay at your house.”
Zacchaeus was so blown away at how Jesus treated him, that
he gave away half of his treasure to the poor to pay back those he had cheated.
good – agathos – of good
constitution or nature; useful, salutary; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful,
happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honorable
Fruit is the product of your life. You are either going to bear good fruit
or bad fruit.
In regards to people falsely claiming to speak for God, Jesus said,
(Matthew 7:16 NKJV) You will know them by their fruits.
I think some of the “fruit” we and our wisdom/decisions ought to be known
NKJV) —22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.
– ἀδιάκριτος adiakritos – without dubiousness,
ambiguity or uncertainty
James has already warned us about treating the “rich” people nicer than the
(James 2:1 NKJV) My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Lord of glory, with partiality.
Wise decisions have no room for prejudice.
without hypocrisy – ἀνυπόκριτος
anupokritos – unfeigned,
Drama in western culture was born in ancient Greece. Actors on a stage
would have various masks to display the emotion of their lines.
These actors were called hupokrites.
A “hypocrite” is a person who is pretending to be something they are not.
A wise person is a “genuine” person, not a person playing a part, not a
person telling someone what they think they want to hear.
:18 Now the fruit of
righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
:18 those who make peace
righteousness – dikaiosune –
in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the
condition acceptable to God; integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness,
correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting
peace – eirene – a state
of national tranquility; peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord;
security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and
keep things safe and prosperous)
sown – speiro – to sow,
present passive indicative
who make – poieo – to make; to do
present active participle
(James 3:18 NLT) And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a
harvest of righteousness.
Godly wisdom isn’t disconnected to the relationships we have with one
The Message paraphrase of this verse is:
(James 3:18 The Message) You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with
God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along
with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
(Matthew 5:9 NKJV) Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of
I want to wind up this morning by first using our verses as a template for
testing the “wisdom” or decisions we make, and secondly to give you an example
of what godly wisdom looks like.
Making wise decisions
What kind of decisions are you facing right now?
Is it a choice about work?
Where to live?
Is it about your kids or your family?
Is it about your career?
There are plenty of decisions that we make that we shouldn’t
be stressing over, but some are pretty important.
The place to start is in asking God for wisdom (James 1:5).
The next step is to take a look in the mirror of God’s Word and think about
the choices you’ve made or are ahead of you. Perhaps you ought to “test” your
Fifty years and ten days ago (July 20), Apollo 11 landed on the moon.
Before they were able to land on the moon, they had to test all the ideas
the engineers were coming up with.
Neil Armstrong was, among other things, a really good test
pilot. This is from “First Man” –
Video: First Man – Test Flight
After some of the things we’ve looked at, hopefully you’ll
be willing to “eject” before you crash.
So here’s the test. Run your ideas
through this “grid” (it’s in the app notes)
willing to yield
Are you faced with decisions? Are you looking for the wise choice to make?
Pray for wisdom
Run it through the “grid”
An example of godly wisdom
When it comes to handling issues of sexuality, the church is struggling to
keep up with the shifting landscape of what the world thinks is right.
When it comes to how we respond to questions about homosexuality, some of
us simply get mad, while others of us might not even want to talk about it.
Sam Allberry is an Anglican pastor from England who has a lot of good
things to say on the topic of our society’s confused ideas about sexuality.
At last week’s Pastors’ Conference, Sam talked about how our culture has
changed the last twenty years over what is right and wrong in sexuality. He did
a great job in showing the underlying false ideas that have gotten us to where
we are today.
He also gave some really, really good ideas about how to minister to those
who are struggling with the issues inside the LGBT agenda.
One of his points was how important it is that we don’t
say one thing to one person that we’re not willing to say to all.
The Christian community is often looked at as being unfair
– that we have different sets of rules for different groups. We make it sound
as if homosexuality is the only sin, when in fact Jesus levels the playing
field and puts all of humanity in the same boat. We are all sinners.
Video: Sam Allberry
– Gospel Confidence in a sexually shifting world
Clip from 33:44
In my notes I’ve got a link to Sam’s full message from
last week’s Pastors’ Conference at Costa Mesa. Really, really good stuff.
Does that sound like wisdom from above?
It does to me.
Do you know that the wisest thing you could do today is to recognize you
are a sinner like the rest of us, recognize that Jesus died for you, turn from
your sin, and open your heart to Him?