Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25, 2010

“Faith Exercises Wisdom” James 3:13-18

Every work out routine has built in measuring points where you can measure your progress and development, whether it is a faster time for a mile or more reps or more weight that you lift – it is motivational to see growth!

James, accordingly, offers some progress points to measure how you are doing as you work out your faith. Let’s review them:

· Joy in suffering
· Obeying truth under pressure
· Treating everyone with dignity and respect
· Doing good deeds to validate your faith
· Controlling your tongue

How are you doing? How is your faith working out? Have you taken time to check your progress? If not, why not? What are you waiting for? Is spiritual growth not that important to you? If that’s the case, what’s the point? Why are you bothering with the hassle of faith if spiritual growth is not that important?

This morning as we close out the third chapter of James we have another measurement to deal with – the IQ test. It’s not the IQ test you are thinking about – the Intelligence Quotient. This one is far more important and much easier to measure.

Really? What is it?

This IQ test does not have anything to do with intelligence but it does involve wisdom. James defines wisdom as our knowledge of God displayed through godly living. By James’ definition your IQ stands for INTEGRITY QUOTIENT. God measures your wisdom by your integrity. That is what we will discover this morning!

Are you ready to check your IQ?

“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. 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, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 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.” James 3:13-18

I. Human Wisdom, Vv. 13-16

Our world has plenty of knowledge and education, but that fact doesn’t always translated into wisdom. In fact, some times wisdom can be learned from relatively uneducated people – including children. Consider some examples of childish wisdom:

Patrick, age 10, wisely suggests, “Never trust a dog to watch your food.”

Randy, age 9, offers, “Stay away from prunes.” (How did Randy know that?)

Lauren, age 9, says, “Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick.” Her friend Naomi adds, “Fingernail polish does not make good lipstick either.”

Joel, age 10, contributes with, “Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat.”

Eileen, 8, says, “Never try to baptize a cat.”

(Ethel The Cow Give Auto Advice)


Marks of human wisdom:

1) bitter envy – an edginess, defensiveness, territorial, ready to attack anyone who challenges them or gets to close to exposing their folly.

2) selfish ambition – determined to impose their opinions and agenda no matter who they have to hurt.

3) disorder and evil practice - willing to divide and create chaos in order to gain power or promote their agenda. These attitudes delight in deceit and fancy themselves clever by their ability to confuse and control others. It originates in the heart of Satan and reflects his arrogance and evil.

Dwight L. Moody once told the fable of an eagle who was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a hunter with a bow and arrow and said to him, "I wish you would bring down that eagle up there." The man said he would if he had some feathers for his arrow. So the envious eagle pulled out some feathers. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival bird because he was flying too high. The first eagle pulled out another feather, then another — until he had lost so many that he couldn’t fly. The archer then turned around and killed the helpless bird. - Moody’s point was ‘if you are envious of others, the one you will hurt the most by your actions will be yourself.

Such is the danger and destruction of Human Wisdom……

II. Heavenly Wisdom, Vv. 17-18

In his book, “Tender Loving Heart”, James K. Krames writes, “There was a
young Christian man in a southern university. He made the football team as the starting split end. And he continually was before God saying, ‘Help me in the climax of moments to be absolutely honest. I pray for honesty--that one mark of integrity. I want to be that, Lord, and I’ll work on it through the season.’The rival team came that night, homecoming. He ran his route and went into the end zone. The quarterback shot him the pass and he got it low. He landed on it, and the referee shouted, ‘Touchdown!’ But that boy knew he had trapped the ball. (for you who aren’t into that, it means that he didn’t really catch it.) The stands were just cheering, you know, sending him on his way, the hero of the game. He said, ‘Wait a minute.’ Can you imagine this? Walked up to the referee and shook his head. He said, ‘I trapped it.’ The referee canceled the touchdown and they lost the game.Now you may not understand much about football, but you know what it is to be a fan. And that boy stood all alone, not only against a team that said, ‘What does it matter, man?’ but against the stands full of people. He said, ‘I can’t take the credit. I did not catch it.’

Marks of this wisdom:

1) pure – morally uncontaminated, perfect, pleasing to God, derived from truth
Do you operate from pure motives?

2) peace-loving - committed to promoting peace - Are you a peacemaker?

3) considerate – equitable, fair-minded, polite, gentle – Do you consider others?

4) submissive – compliant, anxious to obey – How is your obedience?

5) merciful – kindness, compassionate, especially to needy – Do you show mercy?

6) good fruit – works produced from the virtues of the heart – How’s your fruit?

7) impartial – not biased, kindly disposed toward all

8) sincere – genuine, authentic, no hidden agenda


Heavenly wisdom is meant to be an Integrity Quotient.
In his book I Surrender, Patrick Morley writes that the church’s integrity problem is in the misconception "that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior." He goes on to say, "It is revival without reformation, without repentance."

All too often there is a disconnect between what Christians say they believe and how they actually behave. That disconnect is damaging to the faith and destructive to the church.

A pastor friend in Texas was in a hurry after work. He had to get to the mall for some items, go to his daughter’s school to pick her up, take her home, get to a Deacons meeting, and then to spend the evening in counseling sessions. Once in the mall, he saw an advertisement on a music store window that said, “2 CD’s for $9.99”. He loved music so much he decided he just had to take advantage of it. He went in and picked up 2 CD’s he really had been wanting, and went to the register to pay for them. He threw down with his money while talking to everyone around him- as pastors do. Then he picked up his bag and his change and went out of the mall. When he threw the bag in the front seat of his car, he noticed for the first time that the clerk had charged him $1.99 instead of $9.99 for those CD’s. His first thought was that he didn’t have time to go back in to get it fixed. But a small voice kept saying, “You don’t have time not to.”

So, he went back in, stood in the same line until it came his time to talk to the clerk once again. He said, “Look I’m in a hurry. You made a mistake. The sign says $9.99 and you charged me $1.99. Please make this correct so I can get on with what I have to do.”

She said, “Sir, I didn’t make a mistake.”
He said, “Sure you did. There is the sign, here is the receipt. Please make the correction.”

She said, “No, sir, I didn’t make a mistake.”

He said, “What do you mean?!!”

She said, “Can I tell you the rest of the story. Will you let me finish, please?”

He said, “Yes I will.”

She said, “For 17 years I’ve been out of church. Recently, my life has been falling apart and I needed to get back into church. I looked around at what was closest to me. I found the name of the church and I went there Sunday and slipped in and sat on the back row. The pastor that day was speaking on integrity. Sir, it happened to be your church. And when I saw you in my line, I wondered if this was something you preached on Sunday or lived on Monday. And I determined to find out.” Then she said, “Sir, I don’t even know the right questions to ask, but I know that whatever you’ve got I need. “ And then she began to cry. The manager, who happened to be a Christian, stepped in and took over the register, dismissed the pastor and then he led her to the Lord. Do you think she would have ever darkened the doors of a church again if this pastor had not gone back in?