Weekly Devotional | "Who Is Wise?"
This devotional is based on Brian Chesemore's sermon, Who Is Wise?, given on May 15, 2016.
Day 1: Godly Lives Reflect True Wisdom (3:13)
- “Wisdom in the first century Greek culture was everything. If you were known as wise, you were a rock star. To the first century Greek, wisdom had everything to do with your learning and your skill of speech. Rhetoric was King.” Brian Chesemore
- “While knowledge is never to be scoffed at, biblical wisdom is proven out in our living…In other words, the wise and understanding believers in the community, they are marked by humility; and from that humility before God, actions emerge that serve others.” Brian Chesemore
- “So, who is wise and understanding here? James can tell you who. It’s the brother or sister who is humbled by the grace of God, who seeks to live in meekness before God, who is grateful for the transforming grace that makes us more and more like our Savior, and in humility—in meekness—shows good works.” Brian Chesemore
Questions and Reflections:
- James has already spoken of Christian conduct back in 1:19 & 21. Connect these verses with 3:13. What role might the implanted Word have in cultivating wisdom? What does this implanted word do in us that leads to good works?
- Do you see how James uses the “meekness” to describe the proper attitude toward the Word? He uses the same word to describe the proper attitude regarding the practical works of wisdom in 3:13! Have you ever considered that your attitude in receiving the Word of God inevitably affects your application of it?
- In Matt 11:29-30 Jesus reveals that he, though God, is meek. To be meek towards God in humble service to him and others is not a disgrace. It is to imitate God himself! Ask God to help you see meekness as an honor and reveal opportunities this week to practice being like Jesus through meekness.
Day 2: Ungodly Lives Reflect False Wisdom (3:14-16)
- “The jealousy and selfish ambition of this ‘wisdom’ from below… is characterized by extreme and destructive individualism that always makes a priority of Number 1 whatever the consequences.” Craig Blomberg
- “Here we see so clearly that ‘if’ we have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition at work in our hearts, not only are we not biblically wise, but we are dangerous…these are sins which wreak havoc on a church” Brian Chesemore
- “The truth tells us that One came to save us from our selves, our idolatrous pursuit of self-glory. The Truth tells us the Christ bore the sins of our self-worship that we might be forgiven and reconciled to the only One worthy of Worship” Brian Chesemore
Questions and Reflections:
- We all naturally tend to blame our circumstances as justification for being self-focused. We might even try to justify it by saying that it serves some greater good. Compare this to 1:15-16. What is the real source of our selfishness?
- James serves us by locating the source of our sin, that is, in the desires and motives of our hearts. Are there ways in which you see bitter jealousy or selfish ambition in your life? What impact has it begun to have on your relationships? How could you begin to prayerfully take steps of repentance today?
- Ask God to point out specific areas where jealousy and selfish ambition are hiding in your life. Ask him to renew your minds with his implanted Word and to give you opportunities this week in these same areas to lay yourself down for the good of others. Thank him for the gift and example of his own Son who cleanses us.
Day 3: True Wisdom is God-Focused and Others-Oriented (3:17-18)
- “The purity that comes from belonging to God is the fount from which other goodness flows.” Dan McCartney
- “Looking at this list, it’s clear, you simply cannot have these things outside of community. So in order to grow in wisdom and understanding, we can’t live on the fringe of the church community. Friends, its so easy to think we are peaceable when we isolate ourselves. To think we are gentle when we spend so much effort in controlling our circumstances.” Brian Chesemore
- “The wisdom of God has come to us perfectly in the Son of God, our Savior—no bitter jealousy or selfish ambition. [He was] a servant to the end, humbling himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a Cross. Now he is exalted. His harvest of righteousness is found in a harvest of souls, including yours, Christian.” Brian Chesemore
Questions and Reflections:
- Compare these effects of wisdom in James 3:17 to John 15:1-5. What does Jesus identify as the source of all proper obedience and good works? According to Jesus’ assertion in John 15:5, how can we ensure our lives reflect the fruits of wisdom in James 3:17?
- Again, compare James 3:17 with Jesus explanation of the two Greatest Commandments in Matt. 11:34-40. Why are these commands the resting place of the entire Law?
- This kind of wisdom demands community. Among all the attributes of wisdom that James mentions, which do you most need to cultivate? Who in your community could you most learn from? How could you pursue those relationship this month?
- Praise God for giving us the gift of his Son, who is himself Wisdom and Truth! He did not remain isolated from us, but fellowship with us as Immanuel, “God with Us”
- Ask God to give you a deeper, richer love of fellowship (especially with Jesus) so that His wisdom might be more fully displayed in your life.
Questions for Group Discussion:
- How does the world define wisdom? What characteristics mark a person who is wise in the eyes of your unsaved friends, classmates, or co-workers?
- According to James 3:13-18, what is true wisdom? What wise thoughts must be occurring on the inside of this wise person in order to explain the actions on the outside?
- Why might James describe false wisdom as demonic?
- Think of someone you know who exemplifies true wisdom and its characteristics in v. 17. Share this person with the group as an encouraging and spurring example.
- It is easy to adopt the thinking and attitude of “earthly wisdom.” This week or month, where or when did you find yourself most often thinking with jealousy and selfish ambition?
- Think of an area of your life that could be characterized by “disorder” and/or “vile practices.” Can you identify jealousy and selfish ambition close by?