17th Sunday after Trinity October 13, 2019

Let us pray: Dear Savior, teach us today to practice wisdom in all we say and do. Teach us that wisdom goes hand-in-hand with humility.  Teach us to avoid pride which enlarges our ego but diminishes Godly wisdom.  Yes, teach us that only then can we truly be happy and fulfilled in life.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR WISE AND HUMBLE SAVIOR

TEXT:  James 3: 13-18

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

They say that wisdom comes with age.  I’ve found that it isn’t always true.  Older people can say and do some very dumb things! So let’s begin by asking this question: How do you define wisdom?  I suppose it is about making good choices in life which build everyone (including you) up.  It is stepping out of your skin, getting into another’s persona, analyzing what is good for them and then speaking or acting in a way that they will be uplifted.  Wisdom includes knowing another’s weaknesses and not giving them more than they can handle.  Wisdom always does what is best in the bigger venue of life.  It’s long term gain vs. short term gain.  Obviously the longer you’ve lived the more you’ve experienced and the better you’ll be able to make wise decisions.  But not always, because the sin of pride is always with us.

I

Let me ask another question: Do you want to be happy, well-adjusted, and fulfilled in your life?  Do you want to avoid the regret of second-guessing your words and actions and have friends instead of enemies?  If yes, that’s where wisdom comes into play.  And real wisdom comes only from God and is a gift given to us.—If, by His grace, we use it.

James begins our lesson by stating the obvious: “Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.”  Words and actions show a person’s heart.  So, what side of your heart to you want to reveal to the world?  One word spoken in haste and anger can destroy a relationship.  One misguided action can cause hurts that are hard to heal.  That’s where humility comes into play.  For a humble heart always uses this motto: “There but by the grace of God go I.”

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unscriptural, of the devil.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

II

Envy is not being satisfied with your Godly blessings, seeing the opposite of yourself in another’s life, and trying to steal their happiness by sheer force of will.  Selfish ambition is nothing more than pride in action because you believe you know more than God about how to attain your inner longings.  Both are born of evil.  It reminds me of grade schooler on the playground.  We all want to be #1.  We all wanted to be the first pick for the team.  We all want the feeling of power over another.  So we jostle and budge in the line, seek out the spotlight, and  generally crave attention.  All this while ignoring another child’s welfare because we’re only thinking about ourselves.

In essence that’s the devil’s basic sin.  He didn’t want to be lesser than God, he wanted to be #1 and take God’s place.  And He did everything imaginable to try to attain his wish.  Humbleness is not in his dictionary.  Moreover, throughout the entire Bible every time a person tried to do the same, they fell from grace, just as Satan did.  Whereas, every time someone was willing to let God be God and to trust His loving heart, lasting blessings came to be.

In other words, repentance breeds blessings because repentance bows before Jesus Christ!  Repentance humbly says: “I don’t know everything, but Christ does!”  Repentance is willing to receive His forgiveness earned on the cross which pushes aside the uncertainty of always failing to achieve “superiority” because by faith His superiority is given to us.  Humble Christian faith thus calms the troubled breast and all the disorder and disharmony we inherently breed.  Faith gives birth to Godly wisdom, the only kind there is.

James ends by fleshing out exactly what that all is: “But the wisdom that comes down from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”

Let me ask you a final question: Is it really wise to try to attain and take and accomplish the unattainable?  Why continue to beat your head against the wall thinking the absence of pain and total bliss will be the result?  And yet, that’s exactly what ego-driven worldly wisdom tells us to do.  Better to pray for God’s insightful grace, follow His commandments in all we do, wait for Him to guide us, show forth His love via humbleness, and have peace of mind.  True wisdom says: “God’s knows exactly what is best for me and He’ll give it to me.  For this is the reason Christ came—to save me from myself!”  Practice such Godly wisdom and when you get old and gray you’ll look back and say: “My, but my life has turned out so different than I once imagined—and I’m happy and fulfilled because of it!”   Amen