You can’t scroll through Instagram for a couple of seconds without coming across an influencer. The type of influencer that’s famous for being famous. But an authentic influencer, like a parent, a spouse, or a friend, is someone who has wisdom.
But what exactly is wisdom?
There are 3 layers.
Why were they bitter, envious, or selfishly ambitious?
Because they were poor, and others were rich/living it up?
Because the “sinners” looked like they were having all the fun? “If sin isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong.” We can’t dress up our sin as righteousness in response to other people’s sins. It requires the roots of the sin (bitterness, envy, ambition) to be pulled out. We can't remodel the sin without addressing its foundation first. Sin can’t be covered up with a fresh coat of paint.
The world’s wisdom strives for self-advancement. Look at verse 14 and the word “harbor.” A harbor is where you keep stuff until you use it to take you somewhere. When our agendas, viewpoints, and doctrine cast a dark shadow over selfless love and limitless grace, our platforms melt, our voices diminish, and Jesus cannot be seen.
The source of worldly wisdom is pride. That’s right, pride… the root of all sin. Worldly wisdom decreases others while we increase. There’s a tremendous spiritual dimension to this.
Others threaten the world's wisdom. Take a look at verse 14 again. The outflow of worldly wisdom is insecurity.
What does this look like?
Why are Christians so fascinated with the sins of others?
We convince ourselves that a person looked at me funny, that a person is talking about me, that a person doesn’t like me. There can be little truth in this alternate reality, but it’s certainly NOT truth.
Living this way produces discord and leads to evil.
In James 3:15-16, it's not about healthy disagreement. Any healthy relationship has healthy disagreement. In these verses it's about bitter, destructive disagreement. Healthy disagreement in strong relationships strengthens and nurtures. Unhealthy disagreement weakens and destroys relationships.
James says you can tell about the source from its effects. The effect of worldly wisdom is disorder and evil – the opposite of peace.
But here’s the contrast:
Why you really do something has a tremendous effect on the fruit you produce. You can do the right thing the wrong way or for the wrong reasons, and it will produce the wrong fruit.
God's wisdom is demonstrated by living well. You don't just talk, you do, and the effects of your doing are evident. As a result, you have a life that speaks for itself and relationships that speak for themselves.
Instead of immediately trying to lead or influence your relationships, have you spent enough time serving? Enough time submitting? Enough time building? This is the reason that when a lot of very smart Christians with a lot to offer move into “leadership,” no one follows them.
How do you get this credibility? Serving, submitting, building, being. This takes TIME.
God's wisdom is focused on serving others. You move into action, embrace humility first, then serve others and build the relationship.
Embracing humility AND moving into action – for the long term – produces credibility.
The outflow of Godly wisdom is humility, not insecurity.
What’s the difference?
There are a lot of insecure people who have a terrible view of themselves or are falsely humble. True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. Do you filter everything through how it might affect you?
Godly wisdom brings peace, not strife. The effect of Godly wisdom is peace, reconciliation, and righteousness.
How do you make the shift to Godly wisdom?
You have to figure out your source
You have to dig a little bit
You have to look for the source because it will be revealed by its effects
Granted, sometimes, the effects of our lives are not intentional and can be outside of our control if others are involved. But patterns are very revealing over time.
A great way to reflect on this is to look at the characteristics of verse 17 again.
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.
Do the effects of your life (relationships, legacy) look like this?
If not, then you can do something about it, and you won’t be doing it alone. If you’re a Jesus follower, you have the spirit and power of God.
And James isn’t speaking to individuals. He’s speaking to the whole group. This is something that’s about WE. Something WE do together – encouraging each other.
And that’s where heaven and our lives here on earth collide.
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