Saturday, May 28, 2011

Insights from James - Part 3

This week our men's Bible study group looked at the third chapter of the book of James. As usual it was a great time of learning and fellowship. Not only did we discuss cars, rifles, unusual forms of dancing, and philosophy, we also strove to understand how tame the tongue and what it means to seek wisdom. The focus of our discussion yesterday was verses 13-18, about wisdom.
"[13] Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. [14] But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. [15] Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. [16] For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. [17] But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. [18] Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness."  (James 3:13-18, NIV)
I won't try to give an expository sermon here, but these are some key insights from our study:
  • In essence wisdom = seeing things from God's perspective
  • Likewise humility = a right view of yourself
  • v13: Understanding God's view gives us a right view of ourselves, helps us see others as God does, and compels us from His love to care for them.
  • Wisdom then is not a body of safe information you get (like accumulation of knowledge) but rather an ongoing sensitivity to the Holy Spirit which tunes us in to how God sees us and the world
  • Envy demonstrates a misunderstanding of God's view, and selfish ambition displays a wrong view about ourselves
  • Why is it key that wisdom is pure? You can understand and live out several of these virtues from a very wrong motive (as legalists) without being wise.
  • Peace-loving, being a peacemaker, is not being a doormat. It's not a worldly peace defined by a lack of an external conflict, rather a Jewish peace of Shalom - a deeper harmony based on unity in God.
  • Note the other attributes of godly wisdom: considerate, submissive, full of mercy - these are all characteristics that place other people as equal or more important than yourself. That's the key to Christ-like humility, and a faith that honors God. 
Are there other insights or takeaways you have from this passage?

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