Humility (Jas 3:13-18)
“13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
What is the passage saying?
1. Two sets of actions
- Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition (14)
- Good conduct and humility (13)
2. Motivated by Two types of wisdom
- Hellish Wisdom (15)
- Heavenly Wisdom (17-18)
3. Leading to Two destinations
- Hellish Wisdom leads to disorder and vile practice (16)
- Heavenly Wisdom leads to righteousness and peace (18)
I envision this as a road. You are either heading one direction or the other on the road. At either end you have the destinations. The way you are moving are your actions. The motivations come from above or below.
I can tell which wisdom I am living out by evaluating where I am right now. Do others shy away from me because I am always right and trying to get ahead? Do others seek me out and find it easy to share their struggles with me and ask for help? Do those closest to me see me giving of myself to love them? Is my language riddled with “Me,” “My,” “I,” and “Myself”?
How is it connected to grace?
- Heavenly wisdom comes down from above (15) as a good gift of the Father (1:16-18) to those who ask (1:5-8)
- Humbly serving others is something I begin to do when I consider Christ (Phil 2:1-11)
What will it look like in my life? (How does that actually help me change?)
Example: Garret is never wrong. If someone points out to Garret that he may be wrong, Garret can prove the accuser wrong. No one would call Garret mean or awful, but he is not humble. As he looks around, Garret begins to realize that his life is full of pride, selfishness, and self-vindication. He is beginning to realize that he is destroying his relationships all around him. If you were Garret, what could you do to live by heavenly wisdom and cultivate humility? How would those help you change in your pursuit of godliness?
- Recognize my position (sinner)
- Recognize my savior (Jesus Christ)
- Recognize my opportunities (serve others)
What can I Do?
- Would the people closest to you describe your life as one lived according to hellish or heavenly wisdom?
- What would your mentor say?
- Come up with 3 ways to serve others in humility this week and put them into action. Include your accountability partners.
“It’s only when you rightly understand that selfish ambition is at the root of your … sin that the full power of grace will be set loose in your life to change you” (Lambert, Finally Free, 110).