“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens…” Proverbs 3:19
This week James turns from words, and the power of the tongue, to wisdom. This is a logical step, for as James will show us, the power of words feeds right into the need for wisdom. For James, the heart, the tongue, and the mind are not only inexorably linked, but must be controlled wisely.
Like food and water, words spoken in relationships are necessary for life. Indeed, the harshest of all human punishment is solitary confinement where one is deprived of all words completely. However, as James pointed out last week, words can wound or they can heal. They can cause life to flourish, or they can make life wither and die. Therefore, what is needed is a wisdom in the midst of relationships.
What James is going to tell us this week is that the evidence of wisdom is seen in the way we live, for wisdom is the ability to see and build healthy relationships. He will describe three features that characterize wise relationships: they are healing, they are humble, and they are full of praise.
The Greeks believed that there was a wisdom behind nature. Wisdom made nature operate in patterns and rhythms. To the Greeks wisdom was like a cosmic data bank, or better – an idea bank – that controlled the movements of life. The radical message of the Gospel challenged all of that. As the Apostle John says in the first words of his gospel – “The Word (wisdom) became flesh and dwelled among us, full of grace and truth.” Wisdom, therefore, is not some abstract concept for the Christian, but a personal God who entered time and space to re-establish a relationship with those He made for Himself and called to Himself. Indeed, the cross is where ultimate wisdom is revealed. It’s where the love of God, and the law of God are reconciled so that we can live in a healthy, thriving relationships with God and others.
We are going to try to unpack all this this week in a message entitled “Wise Relationships”. The text for Sunday is James 3:6-18 and our companion text is I Thessalonians 5:1-11. In preparation for Sunday’s message you may wish to consider the following:
- What is meant by the current expression – “get a life”?
- How are relationships a necessary part of getting a life?
- What are some features of good relationships?
- Why does James appeal to creation in verse 9 when he excoriates his brothers for their blessing and cursing out of the same mouth?
- How does what Paul says in I Thessalonians 5:11 fit with what James is saying?
- How do you define encouragement?
- In verse 14 James uses the expression “selfish ambition”. Paul uses the same expression multiple times. Do you remember what it means?
- How does James again show that humility is key to all we say and how we live in relationships?
- What does Jonathan Edwards mean when he says, “The difference between knowledge and wisdom is the difference between knowing that honey is sweet and tasting it on your tongue.”?
- What is the opposite of cursing?