Category: Daily Devotionals

Focal Passage- James 3:13-18

James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

Now the apostle provides for the reader a list, though not exhaustive, of the characteristics of a person who possesses the wisdom that is from God.  Worldly wisdom, as James already wrote, is centered on self and it is seen in what it produces.  Godly wisdom is also seen in what it produces, and its fruit will be selfless.  The list James gives us—pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, merciful, fruitful, impartial, and sincere—once again shows us that displaying God to the world is not about empty knowledge of Him but of showing that knowledge in our actions.  How we treat one another will most assuredly demonstrate whether we are full of earthly or heavenly wisdom, and it must always glorify God while kindly dealing with our brothers and sisters.

Study/Meditation:  Who in your life provides a challenge in demonstrating godly wisdom?  How can you change something in your treatment of this person so that you display wisdom that is from above?

*Father, forgive me when I respond to and treat others in a selfish and self-centered manner.  Help me as I endeavor to be more like You and show others Your love and mercy in my actions toward them.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 3:13-18

James 3:16 “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

One poignant distinction exists between worldly wisdom and godly wisdom, and that distinction is also the basis for the difference:  godly wisdom will always be centered fully on God whereas worldly wisdom will be centered on anything else.  That “anything else” includes us.  James is further making this point in verse 16 when he says that self-centered behavior—jealousy and selfish ambition—can only lead to sin.  This must be the case since these sorts of things are not God-honoring or God-glorifying; therefore, these things are of this world.  It may look wise to seek one’s own happiness and contentment above all else, but that wisdom is of the world unless one seeks those things in Christ.  He is both the source and the object of all joy, and in Him only comes wisdom that is from heaven.

Study/Meditation:  What is the world’s idea of wisdom in seeking happiness?  What must it be for the believer?  Why is there such a stark contrast between the two?

*Father, give me the wisdom that comes from You and convict me each and every time I try to make this life about me.  I honor You and praise You and magnify Your name!  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 3:13-18

James 3:15 “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”

The apostle is here claiming that there are distinct differences between wisdom that comes from God and wisdom that comes from the devil, and the differences can be seen in their results. However, these differences are sometimes hard to discern; sometimes worldly or earthly wisdom doesn’t look foolish to us, though it is complete foolishness to God. Many unbelievers manage our money or our taxes or our health, and we trust them as wise, which by worldly standards, they very well may be. But James reminds us that this wisdom is not about God, though it is ultimately granted to them by God, and so therefore it is of no eternal benefit. Consequently, though common, worldly sense can be useful, it is eternally crucial that we develop wisdom that is of and about God. Only this will matter in the end.

Study/Meditation: What is the difference between being a wise believer and a wise unbeliever? How might you argue which is more significant to that unbeliever?

*Father, help me develop and exemplify wisdom that is of and about You. Give me a discerning heart so that I may easily see the difference. Amen.

Focal Passage- James 3:13-18

James 3:14 “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.”

James is arguing negatively here that jealousy and selfish ambition show that a person’s claim to wisdom is false.  There are many who profess to know the righteousness of God, to even preach and teach His righteousness, but who harbor selfish thoughts and self-honoring motives.  Godly wisdom is always centered on God first and foremost and then on the ways we can so aid our brothers and sisters.  Therefore, wisdom is not only displayed in our beliefs that in all our ways we must acknowledge God; it is actually acknowledging God in all our ways.  As James points out, true godly wisdom is manifested in selfless behavior and other-minded concern for the well-being of our brethren.

Study/Meditation:  Why is it that we struggle so much with true, godly wisdom?  How can you work today to display this kind of wisdom in your interactions with others?

*Father, thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit so that I may have access to Your wisdom.  Help me to focus outside of myself and onto those things that enrich my brothers and sisters.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 3:13-18

James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you?  By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”

After the previous section of James’ letter on taming the tongue, the apostle continues in his exhortation on faith plus works demonstrating one’s salvation by writing about wisdom.  He is going to give us the negative and then the positive examples of what true wisdom looks like, and he begins by simply asking who thinks he is wise.  Then, just as before, James points to our actions as being the proof that wisdom exists in our lives.  Wisdom is more than simply knowing notions; it is more than having knowledge.  Wisdom is displayed in what we do and in the humility we show while doing it.  We can claim to know Christ, as much of the world does, but if our lives don’t reveal this knowledge, then it is not saving knowledge.  Let us show our knowledge and wisdom about God in the way we speak and act toward one another today.

Study/Meditation:  What do you think would be the world’s definition of “wisdom”?  How does this differ from God’s?

*Father,  help me to be wise in my life, knowing You and Your Word, but also help me to show that wisdom in the way that I live each day.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 3:1-12

James 3:11-12 “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs?  Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”

In Matthew 7:17, Jesus said that only good trees bear good fruit.  As a matter of fact, He used a very similar analogy to the one his brother, James, uses here—fig trees will produce figs and grapevines will produce grapes.  In other words, those who have become children of God will behave like children of God.  This is the standard.  James uses a second analogy to illustrate how we must keep this standard—the analogy of the salt and fresh water.  If you have a cup of clean, pure water and pour salt water in it, the entire thing will become salty; it will not remain pure.  Likewise, if we allow our hearts to be contaminated by unclean things, only unclean things will be able to come out of our mouths.  We must strive for the standard, which is keeping our hearts pure so that our speech will mirror that.  As Jesus also said, what comes out of a person’s mouth will demonstrate what is in his heart. (Matthew 12:34)  In order to pour forth fresh wa

ter and produce good fruit, we must keep our hearts centered on Him, the only One who is pure.
Study/Meditation:  What do you think Jesus meant when He said that only good trees bear good fruit?  If we are by nature not good, how can we bear good fruit?

*Father, thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit so that I may know what is right and pure and good.  Help me to follow Him in all that I do and say.  Amen.