Wisdom and Works

August 5, 2018

For the first twelve verses of Chapter 3, James discusses the tongue.  For the last six verses, he talks about wisdom.  I wonder how those two topics could possibly relate to each other.  (If you sense a hint of facetiousness in my comment, you are right.)  In addressing wisdom, he is returning to a topic he introduced very early in his letter:


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  (James 1:5)


This would be a good time to review the outline of James’ letter so far, so we can see how the various sections relate to each other.



1:1-12              Trials give us a good opportunity to grow up.  Ask God for wisdom to learn from the trial.

1:13-18            Don’t take Satan’s shortcut out of the trial.  It won’t help, but will defeat the purpose

1:19-27            Be quick to listen and slow to speak.  Don’t just read the Bible; do what it says.


2:1-13              Play fair.  Don’t play favourites.  Show people the respect & dignity Jesus would.

2:14-26            If you are truly saved, it will make a difference in how you live.


3:1-12              Your words reveal your character, your maturity, and your relationship w/ Jesus.



James 3:13-18 acts like a bridge from Chapter 3 to Chapter 4.  In some ways, it is the central passage of the epistle, for the whole letter is one of practical wisdom.  We will begin crossing this bridge with verse 13…



Who is wise and understanding among you?  By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  (James 3:13)



Notice how James ties this verse in with Chapters 1 and 2.



James 3:13a “Who is wise and understanding among you?”  (James 1:5a “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God…)


James 3:13b “By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”  (James 2:18b “I will show you my faith by my works.”)



Every experience you have in life is an opportunity for you to grow.  You grow by asking God to give you wisdom.  If you follow His wisdom, it will show in the way you live.


At this point, it would help to review the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Knowledge is the possession of facts, and wisdom is the proper application of those facts.  In other words, knowledge is what you know.  Wisdom is what you do with what you know.  Here are some examples to illustrate this:


Knowledge is knowing how to swing a golf club.  Wisdom is not swinging that golf club in the house.  Knowledge is knowing how to play a musical instrument.  Wisdom is not playing that instrument at 3:30 in the morning.  Knowledge is realizing when your wife has made a mistake.  Wisdom is not pointing out when your wife has made a mistake.


Notice from verse 13 that humility (meekness) comes from wisdom.  A truly wise person will not brag about how wise he is.


Not only is there a difference between knowledge and wisdom.  James says that there are two kinds of wisdom, which we will look at in the rest of this Chapter…



Today’s Good News is that godly wisdom leads to good works.


Now, go share the Good News…




(Day #66)



If you are joining us part way through this Journey in James, you can access the devotionals you have missed in the archives.  (The series started on June 1.)



If this is your first visit to this website, please read the “Featured Post” from March 1, 2018.


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