Part 9 – Spiritual Maturity continued…
This is part 9 of a 15 part Bible Study on the book of James .
Compiled and written by Norma Becker – a true woman of God and God’s word.
*The Index, with links, to all 15 parts is at the bottom of each page.
Spiritual Maturity continued…
James continues to talk about spiritual maturity or pure religion and how it is shown. He has just been talking about the tongue – especially as used by teachers. A teacher is responsible to teach the truth and not his own opinion because it will affect many lives.
Just as he said before when he said fresh water could not come from a spring of salt water, now if you are teaching the truth – a good life should come from it. Your life is another way of communicating. So he asks a question in verse 13:
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
Today’s English version says:
“Is there someone among you who is wise and understanding? He is to prove it by his good life, by his good deeds performed with humility and wisdom.”
What would you say it means? How would you interpret it? The Greek word for wise was the technical term among the Jews for the teacher or scribe. It seems he is still speaking to those who would be teachers and here it is not what they say that concerns him but rather how they live. Thus, if you are going to be a teacher you are obligated to show it by your good life.
Proverbs 9:10 says,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
What is wisdom? Is wisdom book learning? Not a matter of acquiring truth in lectures but of applying truth to life?
“Humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13
What is humility? Is a humble person a doormat that relies on God for vindication? Does a humble person have low self-esteem? Is he is not occupied with self at all – doesn’t have to worry about self interest or enhancing his status? Does he totally forget himself?
Humbleness is ‘strength under control.’ Strength because he forgets self and relies on God – under control but relies on God for vindication and refuses to retaliate when insulted.
This is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Read James 3:14-16:
“But if you harbour 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, unspiritual, or the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
If you harbour bitter envy or jealousy – we don’t have what someone else has or being afraid someone will take away what we do have which led to competitiveness; and selfish ambition – A self seeking attitude bent on gaining advantage and prestige for oneself or one’s group. The wise allows God to open the doors and move them forward. He is saying that pride of their knowledge caused them to boast and deny the truth.
Although James refers to the attitude of verse 14 as ‘wisdom,’ he obviously does not mean that it is genuine wisdom. It is wisdom claimed by teachers whose lives contradict their claims. Their ‘wisdom’ evaluates everything by worldly standards and makes personal gain their highest goal.
This wisdom doesn’t come from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual and of the devil. What happens when we have envy and selfish ambition? You find disorder and every evil practice.
Then There is the Wisdom That Comes From Heaven
Read verses 17-18:
“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. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
The unwise person was featured earlier. When we look at him, we see the type of person that we can sometimes be inclined to be. But if we are to produce fruit different from that produced by false wisdom, then something must come into our lives from above which is unnatural to us. God must give us his life giving water: the Holy Spirit.
We can contrast the earthly, unspiritual wisdom from the devil (in verses 13-14) with the heavenly, spiritual wisdom of God.
With heavenly wisdom we are more open and teachable. We are not selfish and ambitious but more conciliatory and amenable. Instead of being disorderly which leads to evil practices, it is full of mercy and good fruit. Disorder and mercy are the attitudes; evil practices and good fruit are the actions. Heavenly wisdom does not have the evil practices of showing favouritism or discrimination against anyone nor is it hypocritical.
“Righteousness will grow only in a climate of peace.”
Peace has to be sown and cultivated by the ‘peacemakers.’ These people not only love peace and live in peace but also strive to create conditions of peace.
Describe this peace. Do you think a peacemaker avoids conflict at all costs? Does a peacemaker impose his solution on others? Does he always give in when opposed? When we have heavenly wisdom we can live at peace with others.
Chuck Swindoll had some good words in his Bible study on James:
“The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. Peace refers to horizontal harmony, which results when one person is rightly related to another. This peace is not theological, but relational. When we live according to true wisdom, we can maintain peaceful relationships without violating God’s standards. By contrast, the individual who disturbs the peace between himself and others will know nothing of living a righteous life style.”
Part 10: What Causes Fights and Quarrels Among You?
Index of James Bible Study
Part 1 Who is James?
Part 2 When and to Whom Was James Written?
Part 3 How to Welcome Trials with an Attitude of Joy?
Part 4 What Does ‘Tempt’ Mean?
Part 5 What is the Key to Responding to Trials?
Part 6 Those with True Religion Should Serve
Part 7 Expression of the Character and Will of God Himself
Part 8 Spiritual Maturity
Part 9 Spiritual Maturity continued…
Part 10 What Causes Fights and Quarrels Among You?
Part 11 Is This How We Are To Be?
Part 12 What About My Plans?
Part 13 Let God be the Judge
Part 14 The Power of Prayer & Praise
Part 15 Summary and last part