Share This Episode
Wisdom for the Heart Dr. Stephen Davey Logo

The Ways of Wisdom

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
June 2, 2023 12:00 am

The Ways of Wisdom

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1136 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

June 2, 2023 12:00 am

(James 3:17-18) Godly wisdom isn't a gift . . . it's a reward. And only those who live for God receive it.

Listen to the full-length version, or read the manuscript of this message here:

Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
In Touch
Charles Stanley
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts

You don't need to go to God this month or next month and say, Lord, I really need your wisdom.

I want to know if you want me to pay my taxes this year. You don't have to pray about that. We don't have to pray about guarding our appetites, putting filters on our computer, cleaning up our language, staying out of clubs, keeping our promises, writing our unterm papers, paying for whatever it is that we got out of the store. You never have to go to God and say, Oh Lord, I really need your wisdom about all this stuff. Why?

Because it's the opposite of pure. Most of the decisions you face in life don't pose a real moral dilemma for you. You may not always like doing the right thing, but you usually know what the right thing is. You can read God's word and discern what it is that he wants you to do and how he wants you to live.

In other words, you're usually able to discern right from wrong. And that's good news because that's a mark of true wisdom. Today, Steven Davey concludes his series entitled A Word to the Wise. He's been exploring what Godly wisdom really looks like. Steven's message today is called The Ways of Wisdom. Let me invite you one more time to James chapter three.

We'll wrap up this chapter today. James chapter three. Several of our seminary graduates are involved in church planting, and I've had the privilege of talking to two of them in the last few days. One of them sent me his sermon manuscripts as he is working through with his young and small congregation, the Book of James.

And I've enjoyed reading them. His sermon on this particular paragraph he covered verses 13 to 18 in one sermon. I don't know how he did that.

I'm troubled by that. But at any rate, he introduced it, and I thought it was funny. He referenced the rather meteoric rise in popularity of a comedian named Jeff Foxworthy.

You remember him? He might be a what? Redneck.

He might be a redneck, yeah. That album was released in 1993. And when I read it, I thought, wow, it's that long ago. If you listen to that album, you're getting old. In fact, if you know what an album is, you're getting old.

In his original list, Jeff included these following characteristics. You might be a redneck if you ever cut your grass and found a car. You might be a redneck if your fur coat is homemade. You might be a redneck if you ever hit a deer on purpose. One more, you might be a redneck if you don't think these are funny. Another subject, you might be a Green Bay Packer fan if you believe God answers prayer. Amen?

Any of them out here? Okay, I did that just for you. Okay, I made that up. Well, the point is simple.

You want to know what somebody is like, follow them around, listen to them, tune in on their radio stations, follow them to work. You'll find out. The Apostle James, I'm convinced, does not want us to be confused about what true wisdom is. And the seminary graduate said it this way. James is saying, you know you're a wise person if.

He's going to give us seven characteristics of wisdom in this latter part of this paragraph. And James seems to know how easy it is to misunderstand. You might hear, but you might not get it. You might not quite understand. And so he's going to repeat himself and he's going to use synonymous terms, some slightly different, to make sure that we get it right.

We don't just hear, but we understand. You know, but think of the guy I read about recently, he knew his wife's birthday party was coming up soon. And so this article said he asked her, it was concluded in one of the books I've been reading, he didn't want to try to appear obvious. So he said, honey, if you could have one wish, what would you want? He thought for a moment, then laughed and said, I'd like to be eight again. And he thought, that's perfect.

I know exactly what I'm going to do. So on the morning of her birthday, he woke her up and off they went to IHOP for breakfast and he ordered a huge waffle with strawberries and whipped cream for her. And then they drove to a nearby theme park.

And what a day it was. He put her on every ride, the death slide, the cyclone whip, the screaming loop, the wall of fear. Five hours later, she staggered out of the theme park with her husband, her head reeling, her stomach churning. He whisked her off to McDonald's where he ordered a Big Mac fries and a thick chocolate milkshake. And he took her to the latest Disney movie where they had popcorn, Pepsi's and a big bag of M&M's topping off the day full of fabulous eight-year-old adventures. Exhausted, she stumbled into the house late that evening with her husband and collapsed on the bed and he leaned down and softly whispered in her ear, well, you got your wish.

How do you like being eight again? One eye opened in surprise and she moaned, I meant my dress size. Well, it's one thing to think we heard what our wife said. It's another thing to understand, right? Well, in the last paragraph, I think James wants to make sure we don't just hear him, but we really understand what he's saying. He's contrasting the wisdom of the world.

We've studied that description. And now he turns our focus toward heaven. Even the rabbis in James Day said that wisdom comes from God. So when he says, this is wisdom from above, everyone will understand he's talking about wisdom from God or wisdom from heaven.

And he doesn't want anybody to say, well, I thought you meant that or I thought you meant this. So he's going to make sure we hear. And he's going to effectively say, here's how you can tell if you're pursuing godly wisdom.

Here are the qualities of it. So let's go back to verse 13 and get a running start with where we left off at verse 17. He says, who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above but is earthly, natural, demonic or devilish.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

These are what we could call the seven characteristics of wisdom or seven ways to tell you're growing up in the wisdom of God. And James will be very clear, we cannot misunderstand. Now if you go back to verse 17, you notice the first word in the list is pure, the word pure. In fact, the phrase he says, the wisdom from above is first pure. Now by that word first, James does not mean this is the first word in the list. What he means by that construction is this is the most important word, it is first and foremost in the list. In fact, you can discover in the original construction that every word that follows hinges back to this overarching attribute of wisdom.

It's pure. It's a reference to holy living. It's a reference to moral integrity. It is the opposite of the world's wisdom. You might remember in the previous verses in verse 16, he said, look, the world's wisdom, here's what it produces. It produces disorder and every evil deed. It produces confusion, doesn't know what's right or wrong, which leads into every evil action imaginable. The wisdom of the world is sensual, earthly, criminal, demonic, depraved, devious, devilish. Now James tells us that heavenly wisdom is first and foremost clean, pure. The word refers, it has the nuance, to someone who shrinks back from evil, someone who pulls back from pollution, someone who holds back, doesn't want to get near something that's corrupting or filthy.

The word refers to somebody who shrinks back from any kind of evil, corruption. It treats sin like you treat your garbage can. You don't put it in the middle of your living room. It's out back.

It's at the side of the house, in the garage. It isn't part of the decor. So James puts this word first. Every adjective will come from this. If you really don't want to be pure, if you want to embrace it, the implication is forget about the rest of the list. Don't worry about being gentle or reasonable or merciful.

It won't matter. It's impossible to compartmentalize moral integrity and say, even though I am not, I'm going to put on a show. You get purity wrong and you're not on the right path. By the way, this happens to provide the very first guideline to use as you're praying for wisdom, as you're trying to discern the will of God. This is it.

Is it pure, clean, right? You don't need to go to God this month or next month and say, Lord, I really need your wisdom. I want to know if you want me to pay my taxes this year. You don't have to pray about that. To not do that would not be right. We don't have to pray about faithfulness to our spouse. We don't have to pray about telling the truth, obeying our parents, guarding our appetites, putting filters on our computer, cleaning up our language, staying out of clubs, keeping our promises, being honest with our employers, writing our own term papers, doing our own homework, paying for whatever it is that we got out of the store. You never have to go to God and say, Oh, Lord, I really need your wisdom about all this stuff. Why?

Because it's the opposite of pure and clean. You don't need to pray. Several years ago, I had a woman tell me she'd been involved with a man for some time before finally breaking it off. She was single. He was married.

Both claimed to be Christians, both of them involved in the church for years. She said to me, I was so far off the path of wisdom, so self-deceived that we would meet at a hotel room, get out our Bibles, read the word together, get on our knees and pray together and then commit adultery. So you don't need to pray about some things. And if what you believe to have received from God is truly Heaven's wisdom, it will always be pure and right. So the Christian who wants to grow up in wisdom can ask the simple question regarding his thoughts, words, actions. While I am thinking that, doing that, seeing that, saying that, am I pure?

Am I clean? And if the answer is no, you know it is not wisdom from above. Let's go on to the next word. He says, add to this then, connect to this the word peaceable. You could translate this adjective peace loving.

And by the way, since this characteristic follows purity or truth would be a derivative. This person, this peace loving person, does not set truth aside for the sake of tranquility. He doesn't say, I'm not going to deal with sin because it's going to be disruptive.

It's going to turn things upside down. He doesn't compromise the truth in order to keep the peace. Because sometimes when you stand for the truth, you stir things up. Jesus Christ said his gospel would bring a sword and not peace, meaning in some situations it would separate children from parents who do not or do believe from extended family members, Matthew 10-34. The believer may very well stir things up rather than settle things down if everything he does thinks is attached to purity, truth. But I want you to understand this, as one Greek scholar wrote, this word peaceable refers to a person who may be standing up against sin, but even while doing so, he's hungering, he's longing for peace, yearning to heal all divisions by means of wisdom.

Let's go on. Verse 17, James adds another word to the list of seven. It's the word gentle. Now this is different and let me be tedious enough to tell you that this is different from the verse, verse 13 in the appearance of the English translation there. James referred to a wise person's gentleness in verse 13. In verse 13, if you were with us, you may remember that James is referring to somebody who's meek, who is humble. Here in verse 17, it's different. He's referring to someone who trusts God in the face of injustice.

That's the idea here. In fact, the Greek philosopher Plato used this word in secular Greek to refer to somebody who responds wisely to the loss of a personal right or a personal interest. You could paraphrase this word gentle as one who yields his right of way. You might write that on the margin of your text to help you understand that gentle means yielding my right, yielding my right of way to another. You're going to see this word operating out in the parking lots after this service, right? That word gentle, yielding will be demonstrated after it. But be careful, by the way. The last time I mentioned being nice in the parking lot around the campus, one of the crew told me afterward that it took forever to clear the parking lots between the services because everybody was being so polite. No, you go worse, no, you.

And he said, and I quote, it was terrible. So yield, but don't cause a traffic jam. Be nice, but not so nice, okay? Let me give you an illustration from the text of Scripture, Genesis 13. You can read that sometime. Again, this is Abraham yielding to Lot. Abraham goes to Lot, his nephew, and he says, look, we've got so many people.

Our families are growing, our herds are growing, there's not enough grass, none of pasture land, water in the wells, we need to split up. And Lot, I'm going to let you choose, would you rather have the well-watered, fertile plains of the Jordan Valley or the scrub brush of Canaan? And Lot prays for all of 15 seconds and says, I think it'd be God's will if I chose Jordan. Now, when you read that account, you can almost expect to hear Abraham say, I can't believe you said that.

In fact, I'm going to change the rules. I'm the patriarch. It is to me that the covenant promise was given.

I'm older than you. You should know better and I'm going to take Jordan. No, he says, all right. This is Abraham yielding.

He stepped aside from his personal right for another. It's the idea here. James goes on to give us a fourth description.

He says in verse 17, the wisdom from above is first and foremost pure, then peaceable, gentle, and reasonable. It's a rich word. It refers to someone who is easy to work with.

Someone may come to your mind as you think about where you work. They're open to reason. They may want to do something, but they'll listen to you give your opinion and it may change theirs.

They're open. They're agreeable. In James' generation, this word was used in secular Greek for a military context, for someone obeying orders without question. It's also used of a child submitting to his parents and to their will. The opposite then of being reasonable is being stubborn to the will of those in authority over you, ultimately to the will of your Heavenly Father. The opposite of reasonable is bullheadedness.

I couldn't find that in the Greek language, but that says it all to me. And you're going to have opportunities to demonstrate which one you will be as you head to work or into your world tomorrow, as you respond to those in authority over you. And it's easy on the job to spot then someone demonstrating this kind of wisdom. You know they're a wise person if they're easy to work with, if they're open to correction.

If they're not in the back room with the others, running down the crew chief, complaining about the superintendent, griping about the demands of the teacher. Reasonable means agreeable. That's the idea here. Now James gives us next the only double characteristic in this list. He writes, it's also this wisdom from above. It's full of mercy and good fruits.

That's the reason you have these characteristics doubled or connected. Mercy always acts out. Mercy is not feeling someone's needs, it's meeting someone's needs. We want to do that as a church family. Today you're going to get a grocery bag and we'll ask you to take it home and fill it up and leave it by the bumper of your car, that's the term the team came up with, bumper crop. That'll go to this organization in Raleigh called With Love From Jesus and they'll give that food away. And we're able to literally cover the needs of this organization for several days just with our one bag. What we love about this particular partnership is these individuals don't just give food to homeless and needy. They first ask them to hear, to sit through a presentation of the gospel. And every year they have people come to faith in Christ. Now whether or not they respond to the gospel they'll still get the food for free but they want to make sure they've heard the gospel.

So it's more than just a temporary meal, it is an eternal inheritance in Christ. See mercy is not a feeling, it's an action. Mercy is always demonstrated and a person who's growing in wisdom is growing in mercy. Now the wisdom of the world might say yeah I do a lot of that stuff but we know it's a purely motivated to simply make them feel better about themselves. But at the heart of the world's wisdom would be an attitude of well not, no look, to me life is not giving mercy to people. I mean life is when people are at your mercy. That's where we want to be.

That's life. Another that's actually shriveling up. What a contrast that spirit is to Joseph, the Prime Minister of Egypt who was at the top of the food chain literally and figuratively. And he finally had his brothers at his mercy.

And what did he do? He gave them mercy. This is the gospel for Christ saved us according to his mercy. Titus chapter 2 verse 5.

God is rich in mercy. Ephesians chapter 2 verse 4. James adds another characteristic to the ways of wisdom.

He writes near the end of verse 17 that the wisdom from above is unwavering. Now that sounds immediately contradictory to reasonable. Unwavering sounds like somebody will never change their mind. Well James is actually referring to somebody who is stubborn.

Not in the negative sense but in the positive sense. This word refers to someone who is not wavering or vacillating on principle relative to truth and commitment. In other words you've made a commitment to Jesus Christ and you do not want to waver. No matter how it's tested you're committed and desirous of following him.

It's kind of like someone putting on a purity ring on their finger when they're 13 or 14 or 16 and you refuse to take it off or to live as if it's not on your finger. You don't want to waver. Listen the wisest thing we can do is to have already decided as believers which team we're going to play on. So we don't get up in the morning and say well I'm not sure what's going to happen today and which team I'm going to be. God's team or the world's team. I'm not sure which way I'm going to play it today. That's instability in all your ways but you've already made up your mind.

You have committed to play your life for God and that is your unwavering resolution and then because of your fallenness you waver then you confess it and you get back in the game. That's wisdom. One more characteristic he says at the end of verse 17 the wisdom from above is not hypocritical. The word who poke taste referred to an actor literally one who wore a mask. The days of James the Greek actors didn't change clothes they just changed masks.

They could play several characters in a in a play not with set changes and costume changes but with a mask on a stick that they put in front of their face and then they became that character. James is saying wisdom does not wear a mask. You don't pretend if you want to grow up in wisdom. Now notice verse 18 and the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. In other words a wise person sows these kinds of seeds just described and he benefits from a fruitful harvest of righteousness. Righteousness. He started the list with that which is right and he ends with right. Righteousness begins with purity and he ends with a word that speaks of pure living. These are bookends to this list the etymology of righteousness is interesting the word history.

It was used in the English world at one time as right. Wiseness right. Wiseness one who is right in his wisdom would become one later on. They just simply said who is righteous a person who is right is righteous right wise righteous. So James is saying here that if you sow the seeds of wisdom you are going to get the right kind of harvest. It'll be marked by a righteous harvest of peace peace with God peace with others when in your power peace within your own conscience as you walk through your day and pillow your head at night. James says if you want this kind of fruit this kind of harvest you have to sow these kinds of seeds and we're going to need wisdom to plant the seeds of wisdom.

So I'm glad that James began in his letter back in Chapter 1 verse 5. If anyone lacks wisdom let him ask of God in the Greek construction means since you do lack wisdom since we all lack wisdom. Let's ask God.

God will give it. Just keep in mind when you're asking him when you're saying Lord I want this kind of fruit in the garden of my life. The Lord will effectively respond with Well then get ready to have the ground plowed up and get ready to have the weeds yanked out. Get ready to have comforts and circumstances transplanted. Get ready to submit to my balancing of refreshing rain and hot blazing sunlight. You see you're saying to God Lord plant these seeds so that I can grow up in wisdom and bear in my life the fragrant blossoms and fruit of wisdom.

What are these seeds. These seven are pure and peaceable and gentle and reasonable and full of mercy for action unwavering and without hypocrisy. This is the person who says Lord give me wisdom not just because I need a little more of it.

Give me wisdom because I do not want to live without it. And to that person God gives liberally and will never rebuke you for asking. I hope what Stephen was just describing reflects the desire of your heart. With today's lesson Stephen concludes his series entitled A Word to the Wise.

He's been looking at the contrast between God's wisdom and worldly wisdom. It might encourage you to be able to listen to this series again and we have it available as a set of CDs. Call us at 866-482-4253 for information on how you can get a copy. We're also featuring Stephen's book on this epistle from James. We're making it available during this series at a deeply discounted rate. Ask about that when you call. Join us again next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-02 00:55:28 / 2023-06-02 01:05:08 / 10

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime