James 3:13-16 says “13Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
James in previous verses has been making a point about the tongue. In these remaining verses he leaves the tongue and moves on to wisdom.
Verse 13 opens with a question. The verse says “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” Keep in mind that this verse is to be taken in context with the whole chapter. The chapter started off with James pointing out a problem among the assembly; they all wanted to be teachers. These first few verses were what not to do; this verse is telling them what to do. James is asking ‘who is a wise man and full of knowledge among you?’ notice James asks for a man who is both wise and full of knowledge. Knowledge is knowing things, wisdom is being able to apply this knowledge. I’ve heard it put that knowledge is knowing how to take it apart, wisdom is knowing how to put it together.
So what is this knowledgeable and wise man to do? He is to “shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom”. Referring back to previous verses we can assume that this man can control his tongue and is able to teach other people. With this in mind this man is to set an example through word and deed. Is he to go about telling people off and beating them down? No, he is to do it with “meekness of wisdom”. This man isn’t going to boast about his knowledge and wisdom; he isn’t going to flaunt it. He’s simply going to live his life in meekness to be an example.
The next verse deals with a heart matter. The verse says “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” James is telling the people that if they have anger in their hearts then they are not to exalt their goodness, this would be lying against the truth. Men may not know our hearts, but God certainly does. If He sees anger, bitterness and strife in our hearts then we cannot go about boasting our holiness, this would be lying both to man and God. Being holy and upright is not an exterior thing, it is purely interior. If your heart is pure the rest of your body will be. Denying this is to lie to God.
The next verse tells us the origin of this heart problem. Verse 15 says “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish”. This verse is saying that this so-called wisdom doesn’t come from God. The person who claims to be knowledgeable and wise but does not have wisdom’s meekness is then by no means wise. Instead this false wisdom comes from the world, the passions of it and the devil himself. If anger and strife are in your heart then this does not come from God, instead it is the influence of the world around us, sinful passions and the devil. The man who has this false wisdom is in no position to teach.
The final verse says “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” The heart that is full of envying and strife will also be full of confusion and every evil work. Say for example a man with the wrong heart was put in a position of leadership. This man, having no desire to lead people in the way of the Lord, will sow confusion among the people. He will lead them astray, and due to this every evil work will follow. The people will simply follow the leader into sin. The people will focus on the strife among themselves and will lose sight of the Lord, and once they have lost sight they will end up back in sin, right where they started.
It is so important for people to follow the right people. If you yourself are in a leadership role I urge you to check your heart for any envying or strife, and if you find any either remove it or remove yourself from your leadership role. More harm than good will be done. Don’t claim to be full of knowledge and wisdom if you cannot apply it. If your heart is full of the wrong things you risk leading other people into the wrong things too. If you are a follower then don’t settle for what you see on the outside, search for the interior state. Look into your leader’s heart and see his desires. Are they leading you in the way of the Lord? Are they encouraging and challenging your faith? Don’t be drawn into confusion and evil works. Seek and ye shall find. – Andrew.
Posted on October 4, 2012, in Andrew's Thoughts for the Day and tagged Bible, Christian, Devil, Evil, God, Jesus, Knowledge, Lord, Religion and Spirituality, Wisdom. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.