Living in Godly Wisdom
Read James 3:16-18 (ESV)
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.
What character traits do people who are influenced by godly wisdom exhibit?
How have you seen man’s wisdom fail recently? It could be personally in your own life, locally in your own community, nationally, or even globally. Even with the best of intentions, when people rely on their own personal ideas of what is right and wrong, chaos ensues. We saw this problem in the time of the judges when “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). And we still see it today. When people act on their own selfish and jealous desires, we see decay and destruction.
Today, we continue our discussion of James’ words regarding worldly wisdom vs. godly wisdom. In James 3:14, he wrote that worldly wisdom results in bitter jealous and selfish ambition. Everyone is looking out for number one and doing whatever their own heart desires. Unfortunately, this doesn’t lead to a bunch of fulfilled, happy people. Instead, James said that where you find jealousy and selfishness, you find disorder and every vile practice. Chaos and immorality reign when people are led by their own flesh. Wisdom in our own eyes is no wisdom at all.
According to James, the opposite of worldly wisdom and the answer to problems it causes is “wisdom from above.” This wisdom is from God and because of that, it results in godly character. He referred to this kind of wisdom as pure, peaceable, reasonable, merciful, bearing good fruit, genuine, and it doesn’t play favorites.
When Christians walk in godly wisdom and seek to live in peace amongst each other, they bear good fruit. But when humans live with no regard for God and His ways, we live in conflict and dissention. While worldly wisdom leads to instability and vile behavior, godly wisdom sows peace and reaps a harvest of righteousness. We really do reap what we sow.
We may be tempted to think that this kind of disorder and chaos is only found in secular circles. Unfortunately, it can be found in churches among God’s people all too often! Vying for positions of leadership and being jealous of the gifts, positions, and possessions of others should have no place in the body of Christ, and yet we often see those things rear their ugly heads.
When the apostle Paul ran into divisive behavior in the Corinthian church, this is what he had to say, ‘...you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (1 Corinthians 3:3). Ouch.
Friends, are we acting in our flesh or according to the Spirit? Are we acting like Christians or the rest of the world? We are family! We are on the same team! Infighting, back-biting, envy, and conflict should not be the fruit that our church families are known for. We are called to be set apart. What good is the church if no one can distinguish us from the rest of the world? Instead, we should be known as humble and gentle peacemakers who reap a harvest of righteousness. This week, ask yourself how you can sow peace in your church family?
Lord, I want to walk in Your wisdom rather than my own. Keep me from living according to my flesh and guide me by Your Spirit instead. I want my character to look more like You and less like the rest of the world. Make me a peacemaker. Amen.