Godly Wisdom

James 3:13-17

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17But 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.

Sitting Man

Somewhere in Asia, a migrant drove his children to school. Along the way, he saw a middle aged man sitting next to a gate and watching passersby. After few hours later, the migrant passed by the same route again and noticed that, the man he saw earlier was still sitting in the same place and watching passersby. Whenever he drove his children to school, he saw the man was sitting in the same spot. He thought, “That man must be very patient sitting in the same spot for many hours just watching passersby.”

Reflect on this: On leisure time, what activity do you passionately do every day?

What endeavor do you love and diligently do for extended hours productively? Productiveness of activity expects practical and spiritual benefits from efforts exerted. After work or after school, what activities do you normally do productively? Think of activities that you patiently do regularly passionately peacefully and diligently.

Play musical instruments, write songs, sing, dance, bake, cook, paint, read books, take pictures, clean, gardening, carpentry, fishing, exercise, sports, games, what else?

What drives you to patiently do such activity very diligently? Do you spend time in it because others venture in the same activity? Are you envious of their endeavor? Do you desire attainment similar to others? Do you wish to achieve what others achieved?

It says in Ecclesiastes 4:4, 4And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Envy can cause rivalry. We heard about sibling rivalry, political rivalry, rivalry in school and workplaces; rivalry is a reality in life that drives many individuals to venture on things that others have achieved or attained. Why? Is it bad to be envious of others?

Envy can cause negative or positive effects to a person’s attitude and lifestyle.

If envy inspires diligence and passion for your betterment, it is beneficial; but if envy provokes negative mindset, unpleasant attitude and lifestyle, it can be deadly.

Have you observed how envy affected even believers positively or negatively?

What should we do when we feel envious of others and want to achieve what others achieved without feeling guilty? Is it possible? Pray for godly wisdom so that you may skillfully do what the Lord prescribes, and attain your mission purposes in life.

1.  Skillful

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 

Lifestyle and regular activities can practically expose wisdom and understanding.

The original meaning of the Greek term that was translated as “understanding” involves experiential skill and not just simple collection of information intellectually.

All believers should personally desire and ask God for wisdom. Godly wisdom is very essential to life testimony practically; it inspires humility and meekness. It produces good manners and right conduct; it doesn’t promote pride or arrogance.

Most often, intellectuals want to prove that their opinion and views are superior. Opinionated Christians are also tempted to engage in; they readily cite or quote biblical passages to prove or defend their point. Is it productive to argue or convince a person who does not believe in the reliability of the Scripture? It’s not necessary actually.

How can you convince anyone who chose to oppose? It’s not essential task. Don’t waste your time and effort! If you want to convince someone who really needs the Lord, pray that you may discern potential believers that God had chosen to believe in him. Many among us are frustrated when relatives prefer to ignore the Lord. Yes, it’s biblical!


Trivia question: Who was called “the weeping prophet” in the Bible? Jeremiah! And, why would Jeremiah not weep? He preached that it was far better for the safety of the Israelites to surrender than to fight the Babylonians. But, his very own people not only ignored him, they even imprisoned him and said in Jeremiah 37:13-15: 13“You are deserting to the Babylonians!” 14 “That’s not true!” Jeremiah said. “I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah would not listen to him; instead, he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison.

If you do what is proper and right but results are not what you have expected, the Lord must have a greater mission purposes for his glory. Be prayerful and watchful!

Jeremiah wept not for his imprisonment but because the Israelites rejected God. His suffering in the hands of his own people practically exposed their rejection of God.

To be imprisoned for preaching the word of God is a practical mark as disciple of Christ. Christ declared that all his disciples will be persecuted. We cannot escape that. But, when empowered by his Holy Spirit, persecution is sweet and glorious experience.

This is what Apostle Paul testified in Philippians 3:9-11, 9Through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Faith is displayed in righteous lifestyle. Wherever Christ is, righteousness prevails.

Reflect on this for a moment: Do you strongly believe that Christ is the author of life? Do you strongly believe that he knows the best lifestyle we can experience here on earth and in heaven? Can you accept that he lived a very desirable life on earth?

If you say, “yes,” great! But if you say, “no,” reflect on this: Why did Apostle Paul want to participate in the suffering of Christ? Did he aspire to be martyr or it is desirable experience? Of course, it takes strong faith to treasure suffering for Christ’s sake. With godly understanding, we can appreciate that suffering with Christ is real blessedness.

Pertaining to our Lord Jesus Christ, it was recorded in Revelation 5:12, 12In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Christ set his eyes on the glorious reward of his obedience to God the Father, so that, he willingly endured the painful torture and agonizing suffering he went through.

Pray to be empowered by the Holy Spirit; and, you can obey him cheerfully even when persecuted. Obedience to God attracts emotional or physical pain, but when we obey him and suffer for it, it is glorious experience that will translate to eternal rejoicing. Can you accept it without any hint of hesitation? Apostle Paul had anticipated it.

Pray to mature spiritually like Apostle Paul. Pray for stronger faith and wisdom.

Godly wisdom enables us to skillfully choose the path of godly righteousness so that, in our activities, decisions, thoughts or desires in this life, we can be selfless.

2. Selfless

14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

To “harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition” is a natural inclination of humanity. The term “selfish ambition” can be properly translated as “self-interest.” Technically, it pertains to motive of attracting followers more than what others have. Self-interest or selfish ambition in social media is not very difficult to identify. Anyone with social media account wants more followers and subscribers because it may result to monetary value.

Someone said, “If you want your career to advance faster, you have to be selfish. You’ve got to put your personal interest first and foremost. When greater opportunity presents itself, grab it, don’t wait, go ahead of others. If it is beneficial to you, take it!”

Actually, a preacher admonished believers: “Pray for what is great for you!”

Now, if we pray for promotion, salary increase, better job opportunity, high grades, win games, safety, good health, good governance, prosperity, peace and order in our city, or increase of church attendance, are those prayer items not considered selfishness?

When friends are getting more subscribers in their online channel and you desire to start your own channel, is it called envy? When you buy the latest gadget to create better videos that may attract more followers, would you consider that as self-interest?

So, what biblical decorum should we follow when we have selfish ambition, when we are envious of other’s property, possession or attainment? What biblical ethics should we adhere to when we sense self-interest to have more followers like others?

It’s natural to aspire for betterment in life but we are advised not to be arrogant and not boast about self-interest. When you sense envy and self-interest, keep them to yourselves; pray that God may fill your heart with godly desires instead. And, pray for godly wisdom and understanding to promote peace instead of confusion.

As Children of God, we can experience glorious happiness in this world. It says in

Matthew 5:9, 9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessedness is a simple term that culminates the entirety of glorious experiences as result of the grace of God bestowed upon believers who promote peace. But how can we promote peace when others say negative things against us or enemies attack us?

King David

Let’s learn from a believer who desired to do everything that the Lord prescribes.

King David was a man after God’s own heart and the Lord knows that very well. King David had self-interest but did not proclaim it. He just personally prayed for them.

His prayer of selfish ambition was recorded in Psalm 20:6-9, 6Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. 7Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 8They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. 9Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!

The term “victory” implies war against enemies; it’s not about victory in sports!

When David prayed that God gives victory to the king, did he desire victory for his self-interest only? Why did he not pray for the victory of the whole nation of Israel?

King David trusted that God granted him victory; he believed that God chose and anointed him as king of Israel. And of course, his victory as king of Israel is victory for the whole nation of Israel. Similarly in our generation, the progress a nation has is credited to the leader and likewise, the failure of government is also blamed to the leader.

Normally, concerned citizens are very much involved in politics, even Christians.

Political parties may try to expose undesirable activities of opposing political parties especially during campaign period before election. Why? It’s political strategy!

Obviously, to win followers more than other parties could favor political interest.

Search you heart! What’s your interpretation to what it states in Romans 13:1-2?  1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 

Do you sense any reservation about this godly command? How do you respond?

Some may logically justify their interpretation and try to convince others about their opinion. But, we pray for godly wisdom and understanding, of what the Lord may reveal through his word, for us practice skillfully personally specifically and practically.

It is challenging to convince the non-religious to believe, much more to obey God. Reasons cannot force anyone to believe. Logical explanations are useful for teaching but can’t convert anyone; reasons may even mislead or cause confusion. Actually, argument can expose foolishness. And, it’s by faith to believe God’s word, and not by human logic.

Defiance to godly commands is allegiance to ungodliness. God had regenerated potential believers. We should pray and wait until we discern them so that we may help them understand biblical principles when they are willing to listen sincerely.

3.  Sincere

17But 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.

Pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, good fruit, impartial and sincere, these are practical results of godly wisdom. In church setting, godly wisdom is necessity to help potential believers understand our beliefs and practice them.

In this generation of fake news, it’s very sad reality that many believers are also confused of which leader they should follow. Nevertheless, God allows confusion! Why?

There are genuine believers and pretenders; there are mature believers and infant believers also who attend churches. When God allows confusion in life, it should prompt us to evaluate ourselves and our faith in Christ. Do we really have faith in him or we just deceived ourselves and pretend to have faith in him? Have we grown spiritually mature or we remain stagnant and dormant at spiritual infancy?

Personal reaction and response to confusion practically reveal spiritual status.

Here’s a reminder of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, he admonished us in John 15:1-4:

1I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.


Did you know when gardeners prune grape vines? Late winter, early spring and also in summer when the vine had much fruits! In late winter or early spring, branches are fruitless. Gardeners remove branches that won’t produce much fruits; in summer, they remove fruitless branches so that fruitful branches don’t attract mildew or disease.

They make sure that fruitful branches get more sun light to produce quality fruits. Fruits infected with disease are removed to keep the remaining fruits from disease.

Pruning must be very painful to the vine but necessary process for quality fruit.

Similarly, the Lord prunes unfruitful disciples to produce quality disciples and also takes care of fruitful disciples that produce quality disciples.

Personally, when the Lord prunes unfruitful disciples, it is not very pleasant but necessary process. Why? The Lord wants each of us to be fruitful Disciples of Christ.

Pray for increase of faith, godly wisdom and understanding so that when the Lord prunes you, you won’t focus on the pain but rejoice on fruitfulness in your life.

Pray to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit and you’ll be fruitful. Amen!

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