James 3:13-18 (NIV)
“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. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 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. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Every day you encounter many different kinds of people. Some are very delightful. Some are very difficult. Some of them are inspiring. Some of them are irritating, fascinating, intimidating. The fact is, a lot of the problems we have in life are because of personality conflicts. We don’t get along with people. When your relationships are bad, life stinks. Life is miserable. You may have lots of money and lots of opportunities but if your relationships are bad, you’re miserable. It’s very important that we learn how to get along with other people.
James gives some practical advice. Today we’re going to look at what he has to say about, “How do we relate wisely to other people”. v. 18 is the key verse, “And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.” James says, every day in every relationship, you’re planting seeds. Seeds of anger, jealousy, peace, confidence, insecurity, many different kinds of seeds. So you will inevitable reap in your relationships. How can I plant seeds of peace? How can I be a peacemaker? How can I have peaceful relationships?
Wisdom. We need to learn how to be wise in the way we act toward people. Often we treat people in very foolish ways and we provoke the exact opposite behavior of what we would normally like to see in them. Common sense is not so common. A lot of smart people are not too wise. They may be educated but they don’t have wisdom. They may have all kinds of degrees but they’re a washout with relationships.
The first thing James says in v. 13, is that wisdom is a lifestyle. It has nothing to do with your intelligence. It has everything to do with your relationships and your character. “Who is wise and understanding among you. Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.”
Wisdom has more to do with character in relationships than it has to do with education and intelligence. Wisdom creates humility. Knowledge causes pride, but wisdom causes humility.
How do I get wisdom? How do I become one of those wise people in relationships so that I have that peace that everybody is talking about? Do I just make a New Year’s Resolution — today I’m going to be wise! No. This is the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge comes from education. Wisdom comes from God. To get knowledge you read a book or go to a class. Maybe attend a seminar. To get wisdom you look up to God. Knowledge comes from reason. Wisdom comes from revelation. Knowledge is something you learn. Wisdom is a gift.
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.” Wisdom is a gift from God. I sometimes ask 50 times a day, “God, give me wisdom.” I want to be wise more than anything else. If I’m loving and I’m wise, I’m going to make it in life. If you’re loving and wise you’re going to make it in life. “Ask of God who gives generously.” He loves to give.