Jack Graham - Wisdom and Your Worldview
The title of the message today is: Wisdom and Your Worldview. Now, everyone has a worldview. The way you see the world. How you view life. Your worldview is your life view. It is your perspective. It is your philosophy of life. It is your way of living. Your point of view and how you live flows out of what you believe. In James's letter we discover that he's really big into living out your faith. That faith without works is what? Dead, but with our works we demonstrate the genuineness, the authenticity of our faith and the same can be said of our worldview or the wisdom that God gives us.
Real wisdom comes from God and flows our of our lives as a viewpoint because not only do we see the world through our human eyes but, through the eyes and the lens of the word. Not through the lens of the world, so many people look at everything around them through the lens of the world, but as believers and the old Anglo-Saxon word for believe is a word which means to by-live. What we believe we live by, so how we live is seen through how we view things through the word and James is going to show us in this passage, the difference between a heavenly viewpoint, God's view of the world and wisdom and earth's viewpoint and values. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have or should have a Christian worldview, or a biblical worldview. You want to know what is happening in the world? You want to know what this world is coming to? I'll tell you. This world is coming to Jesus, because Jesus is coming to this world. That's the Christian worldview.
Now, James tells us that this worldview is all about the living. That our insight is integrated into the way we live, so look at verse thirteen of chapter three. "Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exists, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere and, (here's a good Thanksgiving verse for you), a harvest of righteousness is shown in peace by those who make peace".
Wisdom, i.e., your worldview is a big topic in the Bible. The word wisdom is used hundreds and hundreds of times in the scripture and so we need a definition. A biblical definition of wisdom, the wisdom of God. Wisdom, you many want to write this down, is seeing things from God's perspective. Wisdom is seeing things from God's perspective and making decisions based on that understanding. All right, I'll say it again. Wisdom is seeing things from God's perspective and making decisions, how you live your life, based on that understanding. Wisdom is about making right choices. It's about your character, also your choices. Real wisdom is the ability to integrate what you know and show what you know by how you live.
That's why James begins this conversation with us here, by asking the question, "Does anyone say he is wise? Then show it by your good conduct". Because in the end it is our actions, our skillful living, which is another definition of wisdom. Skillful living. This skillful living, godly living that tells people and ourselves included what we truly believe. At the outset of this passage, let's talk about the worth or the value of real wisdom. Godly wisdom. Look at verse thirteen again. "Who is wise", it's as though Pastor James is looking at the congregation as he asks, "Any here say that you are wise? Raise your hand". All of you who are wise, raise your hand and stand up because I want to talk to you. Obviously he asked the question, is anyone among you wise, because not everyone is wise.
Everyone has an opinion, especially today, but not everyone is wise. Everyone seems to have an argument of some kind from their point of view, their worldview but not everyone has the answer. Wisdom therefore is of great worth and value to those of us who are followers of Jesus. Now, James has been called the Proverbs of the New Testament. James, Jewish, the half-brother of our Lord would be have been quite familiar with the Old Testament of course and that would include the books of wisdom in the Old Testament. It includes Job and Psalms and Proverbs and Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes, so when you get into the library of the wisdom literature, in chapter three of Proverbs, I want you to turn with me there.
You see something about how valuable wisdom really is. Chapter three beginning in verse thirteen says, "Blessed". And that word can also mean happy. Happy or "Blessed is the one who finds wisdom and the one who gets understanding for her gain or for the gain from her, is better than the gain from silver and the profit better than gold". That is it's worth more than money. "She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her". Wisdom is personified here as a beautiful lady. Verse sixteen, "Long life is in her hand". That's why we say that God will not only add years to your life, but life to your years. "And in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life". Don't you love that? "A tree of life to those who lay hold of her. Those who hold her fast are called blessed".
You want to be blessed at this season, and every season in your life then discover your worth, your wealth in the wisdom of God. James then says, "if you are wise, you're going to show it by the way you live". You're going to prove it by smart, skillful, spiritual living. To be wise is to act wisely. To be wise is to learn, but not only learn, but to live the Word of God, the wisdom of God. Now, I need to clarify something. Knowledge and wisdom are not the same. Knowledge is good as far as it goes. It's important to have knowledge, but far more important, far more valuable than even knowledge is wisdom because wisdom is the practical application of knowledge. Knowledge is learned. Wisdom is given. Given in Jesus Christ. Then we can know how to make wise decisions.
What's the value of this wisdom? You say it's valuable Pastor. What's so valuable? Well, you'll make wise choices in your life. Good decisions. You'll have an idea as to how to solve problems God's way. How to discern and do the will of God for your life. I discovered after these many, many years, decades of walking with Christ that the way to discover the will of God is to walk in the wisdom of God everyday and the will of God will find you. It's not as though we're looking for God's will out there. We're walking in the will. We're walking in the word and it's been my personal experience that if I will just stay consistent in the word in the will, in the ways of God then his will will get accomplished in my life. That's wisdom.
Wisdom will enable you, I've already said, to be happy and successful in the efforts of your life. To marry the right person. To build godly relationships. Parenting. The Bible is full of wisdom, especially in the book of Proverbs regarding raising godly children, wise children. Wisdom will help you to control your emotions, so often our emotions are out of control. We face fears and the world is of course living in terror and fear right now due to the terrorists and yet godly wisdom will settle you and strengthen you. Help you to control your emotions. What about finances? We need wisdom as to how to use our money. How to rightfully gain our money. How to generously give our money. How to manage our finances. How to discern what is right or wrong. I could go on and on and on. This is wisdom and we all need it. That is the value of wisdom.
Then James shows us, gives us this contrast between the wisdom that comes from God, from above and the wisdom that does not come from above therefore it comes from below. Look back in James 3 and verse 14, "But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast or be false to the truth". In other words, don't say you have wisdom if you don't have a clue and if you're not living the wisdom that God has given you. He said, "This is not the wisdom that comes from above". He says three things about the wisdom that does not come from God. It comes from below. It is earthly, that is, it is worldly. It is unspiritual or sensual or fleshly and it is demonic. The wisdom that comes from below, it is secular, it is sensual and it is satanic. Whatever form or philosophy it takes if it doesn't come from God.
There are all kinds of world views. There's Marxism. There's Humanism. Secularism. Radicalism. Radical Islam, Jihadism comes from a false religion. A worldview not from above, but from below and the goal of false religion is to dominate. Including Islam. Islam has always advanced by the sword. Conquering and killing on it's way and these terrorists, the so-called radicals represent a false religious system that leads to violence and death because you see, it's empty. It comes not from God, but it comes from below and its filled with rage and jealous and anger and bitterness. Filled with hatred. Ultimately, because it's demonic, our battle is not with flesh and blood but we're engaged in a spiritual battle with the forces of darkness and wise people, those who lead us need to understand the spiritual battle which is the world's battle today. Bitter jealousy and then selfish ambition. The wisdom that comes form below, beneath is filled with selfish ambition, which literally means factional or greedy.
Aristotle, the Greek philosopher actually used the same word that James uses here, selfish ambition, to describe politicians who would say anything and everything just to get elected. That's been going on a long time. It's the jealous, selfish pursuit of fame. It's manipulation of people. It runs over people to get to the top. If I want to be successful, the world says, I don't care who you hurt. You can crawl over your family. You can discard your wife, your kids. You can hurt the people all around you, work with you, doesn't matter as long as you win. That's what James is talking about. Selfish, worldly wisdom. It advances personal ambition and demeans the serving and the caring for other people around you. That's worldly wisdom. It's the way the world thinks when you're swimming with the sharks and it leads, James says in verse 16, to disorder. Literally to chaos and to confusion.
Worldly wisdom is arrogant and selfish so it drives people apart. Everybody's pounding their fists and dividing people, but God's wisdom brings people together. Remember, it puts things back together again. Worldly wisdom is divisive and destructive. It's so easy to tear things down. Our society is prideful today and this knowledge leads to confusion and something else, he says in verse 16, "every evil practice..." Well, you fill in the blank. Every vile thing you can think of. Every perversion. Every kind of immorality. All wickedness. Put it in this pot. Every evil practice. This is where the wisdom of the world takes us and will take you if you listen, so what James is saying to everyone of us is, stop saying you're so smart.
If you are motivated, if your life is motivated and filled with jealous rage and envy, selfish pride and immoral behavior of all kinds because you're not smart. In fact, this is what the Bible calls foolish or a fool. "The fool has said in his heart there is no God". No wonder James says, that worldly wisdom, the wisdom that comes from around us, godly wisdom comes from looking up, worldly wisdom comes from looking around. No wonder he says this kind of wisdom around us is secular, it's earthly, it's sensual, fleshly and it is satanic. We hear it all the time. It's people's world views. Stuff like, well this is what I feel, so whatever I do must be right. How can this be so wrong, if it feels so right. Sounds like a country song to me. No truth is absolute. There's no absolute truth so your truth may be true for you, but your truth is not true for me. That's the wisdom of the world. It's secular. It's sensual and it's satanic. You can even hear stuff like this in churches and seminaries and universities, some that claim to be Christian universities, as in you can't really trust the Bible because after all the Bible is just a human book.
I heard about a minister several years ago in North Carolina. He was going to demonstrate something, I'm not sure what, for his church so he decided near Halloween to show up on Sunday morning in a devil's suit. He came with the whole thing. At least, the caricature of the devil suit. Horns and red suit and underwear and pitch fork and he's prancing around up there and shouting and the kids start crying and the moms and the dads are getting upset and the deacons were really mad about it. Someone called the police and had him arrested, because it's illegal in North Carolina, if you're an adult to wear a mask in public like that. Say, what a terrible story. I mean, that's bad isn't it? A minister in a devil's suit? I'll tell you something worse, than a minister in a devil's suit and that's a devil in a minister's suit, because the scripture says the devil himself transforms himself into an angel of light and just because you hear it in a pulpit or hear it at a university, or hear it even at a seminary it doesn't mean it's God's wisdom.
James closes this passage with the works of real wisdom or true wisdom and he says it is pure and peaceable and humble. Look at it very quickly with me. You're going to have to listen up quickly, all right? Verse 17, "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, good fruits, impartial and sincere and a harvest of righteousness sown in peace by those who make peace". The result, the evidence of God's wisdom is what we just read, so ask yourself, James is really good at asking questions, so let's ask ourselves some questions.
Number one. Am I pure? For the wisdom that is from above is pure. God's wisdom is holy and pure. Thy word is truth. Sanctify them, cleanse them by thy truth. Wisdom, God's wisdom purifies us and cleanses and produces godly character in our lives. What did Jesus say? In Mathew chapter 5, verse 8 in The Sermon on the Mount? He said, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God". God's word is pure. Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God is pure. God's word is inerrant and infallible. This is where we discover God's wisdom.
Am I pure and then am I peaceable? The characteristic is peace. Peaceable. God's wisdom produces peace. Again, bringing people together. If in your marriage there is discord and strife, disharmony and disruption, even divorce that's most likely because you've been listening to the world rather than looking into the word and obeying it. I'm at peace when I make decisions in my life because God's wisdom gives me peace. It's one of the signals you can know that you're following the path of God's will in your life, because there will be just this amazing peace that comes from God. God's wisdom gives you peace. Even when it comes to die, you can say with the songwriter, "It Is Well, It Is Well With My Soul".
Am I gentle? It's the word meekness there which is a fruit of the Spirit. Meekness is not weakness. It speaks of controlling a horse, or putting a horse in the bridle. Taming a colt. I heard, just this week that the wildest colt makes the best horse and when our lives are under control of the Holy Spirit, God can use us. Wise people, as I have observed, genuinely, godly wisdom in people throughout my life, they are typically kind, gentle, gracious and winsome. Not arrogant, angry, prideful and pushy.
Then am I reasonable? He uses the word there, open to reason. Wise people are not always demanding their own way. They're not unreasonable. There is a sweet reasonableness, even when there is discussion or argument the wise person knows how to be sweet, to be kind. Over time we learn that, you know, we're not the smartest person in the room. We don't know everything. Its a good day, when you discover what you don't know as well as what you do know. A dangerous man or woman is that person who doesn't know what they think they know. There's a reasonableness. The wise person is not harsh, stern, dogmatic or argumentative but generous and winsome.
Am I merciful? He speaks here of the wisdom and it's mercy. The good fruit of mercy. The fact is, people don't care how much you know till they know how much you care. You can be smart. Book smart, street smart, any kind of smart, but if you don't care about people, you're not wise.
Am I sincere? Meaning without hypocrisy. Authenticity is paramount here. Christians are real. No double life. No duplicity.
One final word to close, 2 Corinthians 1:12, here it is. "For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we behaved in the world", wow you're going to live, that's your world view, "with simplicity and godly sincerity. Not by earthly wisdom, but by the grace of God and supremely so toward you". Wisdom comes from God. It is His gift. It is His grace. A hundred years from now, everybody in this room will be in eternity. For many of us, much less than that. We're all going to spend eternity and how we live our lives today, whether in worldly wisdom the ways of this world or in the ways of God will determine our future in eternity. If you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, He is the wisdom of God, the word of God. He is the light of love and the light of life and the light will come on in your life when you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. The wisdom of God.