James series – “The Litmus Test for life”
James 3:13, 17-18
13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
Have you ever stopped to consider some of the profound questions in the Bible? Pontius Pilate – “What is truth?” Jesus – “Who do men say that I the Son of Man am?” God to Solomon in a dream – “What do you want? Ask and I will give it to you!” Now imagine that God came to you in a dream and said, “What do you want? Ask and I will give it to you!” What would you say? What would you ask for if the Lord of heaven and earth offered you anything you asked for? As you reflect on your answer I want to remind you of how Solomon answered that question in 1 Kings 3:7-13: 7 “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8 And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— 12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!He could have had anything he wanted and what did he ask for, Wisdom! Solomon understood the wealth of wisdom, as Proverbs 3:13-17 says: “Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying.” Wisdom directs your walk and your walk determines the way you will go. Either the road of righteousness or the road of ruin. So, let me ask you what road are you running down, the road of delight or despair. Are you living in the blessing or in the bondage? Sadly, instead of living the abundant life that Jesus promised many are living the abused life Satan planned because we refuse to walk according to the wisdom of God’s Word and instead we follow the wisdom of worldly ways. Instead of a worthy walk we have a wasted walk. The kind of wisdom that passes the test of faith is the wisdom that James describes as only coming from above. Verse 13 askes the question: “Who is wise and understanding among you?” The two people who are known for their wisdom in this world asked that very same question. Solomon who in Ecclesiastes 8:1, asked, “Who is like the wise? Who knows the explanation of things?” And the great Greek philosopher Socrates. Socrates was the teacher of Plato who was the teacher of Aristotle, who are known as the greatest philosophers of the western world. Socrates spent his whole life on a quest for wisdom. His quest looked a lot like Solomon’s, but unlike Solomon, Socrates died without finding it. At the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon found true wisdom in the only place it can be found in the Word of God. Socrates didn’t acknowledge the Word of God, so he never found what he spent his whole life looking for. But that didn’t stop people from coming to him looking for wisdom. A story is told of an arrogant young man who came to Socrates looking for wisdom. Socrates took him out to the sea and led him chest-deep into the water. Then he asked him, “What do you want?” The young man said, “Wisdom, oh wise Socrates.” So, Socrates proceeded to push him under the water. After about 30 seconds, he let the boy up and asked him again, “What do you want?” The young man sputtered, “Wisdom oh great and wise Socrates.” Socrates pushed him under water again. 30 seconds passed, 35, 40. Then he let him up. “What do you want?” This time the boy was gasping and choking. But between breaths, he managed to get out, “Wisdom, oh great and…” This time he didn’t even finish his sentence before Socrates dunked him. 30, 40, 50, 55, one full minute later, Socrates finally let him up. “What do you want?” “Air! I need air!” That was the lesson. Socrates told him, “When you desire wisdom as much as you just desired air, then you will have it.” Think about that for a second, air is something you don’t pay a whole lot of attention to until you don’t have it. But when you don’t have it, it is the only thing you can think about. If you’ve ever gotten the wind knocked out of you, you know what I’m talking about. What about wisdom do we desire it like we do air? Often, it’s not until we are chocking on our foolish decisions and gasping for God that we realize how much we need His wisdom. Solomon understood the value of wisdom. Do we? How much would a wheelbarrow full of wisdom go for on Ebay, and would we even bid on it?