James 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
James was directed by God to show that faith without works is dead. There has to be a verifiable change that God makes in the saved person’s life. God says it must be so. No sin can enter heaven. On this earth, those who are saved need to begin to demonstrate that holiness that will be a full reality in heaven.
In verse 13 James helps us to see who the truly wise person is. The wise person is endued with knowledge. To be endued with knowledge is to be in possession of knowledge. The wise person will demonstrate his wisdom and knowledge in that he will show forth his works with meekness and wisdom. The wise person does not go around bragging.
I heard of a man who is trying desperately to be recognized as a worthy man. He has received various degrees and diplomas without earning them. He picked some off the internet. All were given to him in a fraudulent manner. This man has obviously been able to convince some people that he is a wise man. However, those who have taken the time to observe this man know that he is an empty suit.
I suppose that the apostle Paul could have been called “Dr. Paul”, in today’s world. It does not seem to me that he ever desired to be known as some sort of an “expert” who stood above others. He was chosen to be an apostle by the Lord Jesus Christ. We know he never sought that title for himself. As a lost person he aspired to be the best Pharisee he could be. He wanted to impress his mentor, Gamaliel. After he was saved, he wrote that all his former “achievements” were but dung. He now wanted to gain greater knowledge of the sufferings of Christ. He was no longer interested in climbing some type of a recognition ladder. Paul was not a fraud. He was not ignorant. He was ever learning. He was drawing closer to his God and Saviour all the time. He did not need papers to prove that. He demonstrated that in his life and testimony. He was known as the apostle who spent the most time in prison of any of the twelve. He was recorded as having been stoned at least two times.
Paul’s reward that he was looking forward to was that crown of righteousness that he knew was awaiting him in glory. When the true saint dies, they leave all their earthly awards behind anyway. Better to be wise and faithful to God’s calling than to make much of one’s self and lack God’s approval.
In verse 14 we see that our hearts need to be free from known sin. Bitter envy will certainly destroy the testimony of any true saint. There is no point in trying to cover this sin up, it will be revealed.
In verse 15 we see that this wisdom is not from heaven. God does not lead any saint to be envious of another saint. This attitude is earthly, it is sensual and it is devilish. It is common among lost people to be envious of others. It is common for lost people to be bitter in their envy toward others. The news tells us of some who even will commit murder in their bitter envy toward others.
Christians do not and cannot function this way.
Verse 16 reminds us that envying and strife causes confusion and every evil work. As others observe the professing Christian, and they see this envying and strife among some, it creates confusion for the lost. Is that what Christianity looks like? They know this is common among lost people, but even lost people assume that Christians should be different. They are right. Christians should be different. The difference will be worked from the inside out. It will come as a result of the new birth. Jesus Christ never demonstrated envy and strife. John the Baptist never demonstrated envy and strife. The apostle Paul never demonstrated envy and strife. Those things do not fit with the new nature.
If a true Christian exemplifies this attitude, that must be addressed immediately. God does not want confusion with regard to His Work.
In verse 17 we see that the wisdom that is from above is first pure. There is no hidden agenda. Those who are saved need to be genuine and sincere. Since that wisdom is pure, it will also be peaceable. There will be a working together to make Christ known, not one another. That wisdom will also be gentle. It will be seeking to help other saints to grow and serve God faithfully as well. It will not be mean-spirited. It will also be easy to be intreated. The true saint does not withhold wise counsel from other saints. The true saint is willing to help another saint to walk more faithfully with the Lord. We see that often in the life of the apostle Paul. He took different men “under his wings” to help them to know the blessing of serving God faithfully.
We see also that this wisdom is full of mercy and good fruits. There is no lack of the goodness of God in the true saint. Yes, the true saint is growing, but they are also filled with God’s love and that love is becoming more and more evident all the time. We see as well that there is no partiality in this heavenly wisdom. It does not matter what place the true saint comes from. If they are a true saint, they will find help from others who have been saved for a longer time. They will be encouraged to be all that God wants them to be. There will be no hypocrisy. The Pharisees were hypocrites. They claimed to be something they were not. They claimed to care about the people when they cared nothing for the people. They were very selfish and evil.
In verse 18 we see that the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. Jesus Christ is the righteousness of the child of God. Thus it is more than reasonable that the fruit the child of God must produce is that of peace. Jesus Christ is the Prince of peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The peace that God gives is not as the world describes its peace. God’s peace is not a compromise among ungodly people. God’s peace is that absolute peace that He is and that He provides for His children. They love one another and they get along with one another because they set aside their own pettiness and they work to know God better and serve Him more faithfully.