Wisdom and Humility

James 3:13-16

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.


There is much Biblical comment on the issue of wisdom. What is wisdom?



  1. What is Wisdom?


  1. It is more than words

        A wise person is not just one that has information. For         example: John Gray, married three times!

Just like faith is more than words

Just like love is more than words

Wisdom is more than words

We will all be judged by our actions because our actions     reflect the reality of our faith, our love and our wisdom.


  1. Wisdom is doing the right thing at the right time

        Ecclesiastes 3:

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

When we are looking for wisdom, we are looking for what we should do in a particular situation. How to act when things are difficult to manage. And from this passage in Ecclesiastes we see that there is an element of relativity to wisdom. We won’t always do the same thing over and over! There is a time for this and a time for that. Wisdom is knowing what time it is!!

Matt 11: Example:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”



  1. Wisdom is rooted in humility

        The fear of God is humility! Humility is recognizing and submitting to God as God. We accept His Word as true, we pattern our lives after what He says is right, true and good. That is what the fear of God is.

Does God want you to be afraid of Him?

God wants you to be afraid of missing His best for your life.

There is only one God and you are not Him/Her!

Are you living your best life? How can you even tell?



  1. The World Has its Wisdom

It is not rooted in the fear of God. In fact, it does not rely on God acting at all. The world’s wisdom revolves around the effort and desire of the individual! What does the world think is wise? It depends upon which philosophy you ascribe to. Epicureanism: maximize pleasure while minimizing pain. Moderation in all things. Etc. There is some truth in these approaches, but they cannot be foundational!

  1. Eat drink and be merry

I Corinthians 15: 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

You only go around once in life so grab all the gusto that you can. Drink Schlitz beer.

Watch commercials! They constantly espouse worldly wisdom. “You deserve…” “You owe it to yourself to…” “The greatest love of all is love of self.”

  1. Money, Pleasure and Self

        I John 2: 15-17

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Money, success, pleasure, accomplishment, competence, these are all good things. But if they are the foundational good in our lives we will struggle with others in our relationships and we will ultimately struggle with God. You can do a good job, be very successful and very unhappy. You can do a good job, be very successful and get fired from your job. You can be faithful to your spouse and they will not appreciate you or be faithful to you. Life is complicated. We are called to be faithful to God first in our behavior!!! When we are, it roots us in humility before Him. We learn to submit our will to His and to follow Him when we don’t “feel like it.”


  1. Follow your heart

        The assumptions here are huge. Is your heart good? Is your        heart pure? Is your heart even stable? Is your heart the standard for what is best for you and those you affect?

There is no objective standard of right true and good. Your heart and my heart are two different things. When we conflict, what should we do? Well, we should compete! Selfish ambition and bitter envy! Or as James says in chapter 4:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

The tail wags the dog as AI gives you what you presently want     now. Follow your heart. Get as much as you can. You are headed         down the path to loss of life.

You wouldn’t tell your children to do this relative to the food that they eat.

You need discipline and the correct standard for personal     accountability.

II Tim 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for: rebuking, teaching, correction and instruction. So that the man of God might be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.


The advantage of following your heart in this way is its clarity!     You can feel something and act! Discipline is not necessary.

“It’ all right now, I’ve learned my lesson well, you can’t please         everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.” Can you imagine       Jesus saying this?


Follow your heart is the opposite of humility! It sets your   heart above God!


III. The Wisdom of Jealousy and Selfish Ambition


  1. How does jealousy relate to wisdom?
  2. We look at what others like to decide what is valuable. This is the worldly approach. We are not democratic because we     believe people are good. We are democratic because we don’t believe that one person should have the power because they are        not good.


Our advertisements are all meant to create jealousy, or a    covetous response in us.


  1. We covet the quality of lives that others have.
  2. We covet the possessions that others have.
  3. We covet the friends, the reputation, the respect that others have. When we do this, then we become discontent with what we have and the value of what we have diminishes.

The world advertises this way because it gets people to turn loose their money. Greed uses covetousness because people are greedy and covetous!

God wants you to learn contentment because when your heart is content, then your heart will not drive you to get things that you do not need.


  1. How does selfish ambition relate to wisdom?

We want the best life. We measure our lives with others and so we compete. We are ambitious, but ambition when it becomes directly competitive must be selfish. Love is not selfish. Selfish ambition must necessarily be sin. Whatever wisdom is in our lives, it is not this!

Another view is to compete with the best version of ourselves to be the best version of ourselves.

And we should strive to be truly great, which is found in being servant of all!

Matthew 23: 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

This is a verse that sounds like it comes straight out of James here and in chapter 4.

If you recognize bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, what are we told not to do?

  1. Do not deny that it is there. I am not being selfish! I am not being jealous!
  2. Do not boast: This means to recognize the value of acting in this way. People are easily motivated this way. You can get things done! We can’t let the Baptists… We can’t let the Assemblies…

If you boast about or deny these human qualities, then you will act on this. What is the result of pursuing life from this perspective?


  1. What is the result of pursuing wisdom in this way?

        Please notice that we are told to not boast about this selfish ambition and bitter envy. Boasting is the opposite of humility. Personally I think Donald Trump is the clearest embodiment of this kind of attitude that I can think of. Tons of self-promotion, selfish ambition etc. But to be fair, there is a lot of self-promotion in politics.

16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Disorder: Chaos. This is the impact on relationships of folks acting in such worldly wisdom. People can use and abuse others for their own aims and call it just. God hates this!

Every evil practice: Since we are not acting in love (love is not jealous, love is not proud, love does not demand its own way etc.) we do not treat people appropriately.

Eve in the Garden: you can’t have that fruit: Jealousy: I want it!! If you eat it you will die, you will move away from God and into chaos. You are in the process of being uncreated!!