Two Kinds Of Wisdom

SCRIPTURE: James 3:13-18, NRSV

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.


As you can see from our text, there are two kinds of wisdom: One from above [Divine][ and one from below [demonic]. One that proceeds from God [divine]. Tasker says True Wisdom and Counterfeit Wisdom. This makes sense since the devil is so good at counterfeiting. Tasker, Barclay and Wiersbe all believe that James is talking to want-to-be teachers. They believe that there has been strife, competition and rivalry in the church for teaching positions. I yield to their expertise. If there is bitter envy and jealously in a teacher’s heart, no true wisdom can be imparted.

God is not the god of confusion or disorder: they would be Satan. God is the God of peace [I Cor. 14:33, for God is a God not of disorder [author of confusion] but of peace.]

James makes it kind of easy on us by giving us the characteristics of both demonic wisdom and divine wisdom


  1. BITTER ENVY/JEALOUSLY–[v.14] Demonic wisdom is motivated by bitter envy. The Greek word for bitter means ‘harsh’, ‘virulent’ which means it is very harmful in its effects, like a contagious disease. Bitterness has the potential of showing hostility. The Greek word for ENVY/JEALOUS is very familiar, it is ‘Zelos’ from which we get the word Zealot. It can be used in a positive or negative way. Here is not good. Here it means punitive zeal, ardor but for the wrong thing. Here James is talking about envy, strife, contention and rivalry.
  2. SELFISH AMBITION–[v.14] This is one word in Greek, it means electioneering, jockeying for position, Using intrigue to gain an office or position. It is the desire to promote one’s self.
  3. BOASTFULNESS–[v.14] Pride, arrogance, to glory against, to exult over [football players], to boast one’s self to the injury of another person or thing.
  4. DISHONESTfalse to the truth [v.14]. It is for show, it is a lie, all pretense.
  5. EARTHLY–Totally void of divine inspiration. It is natural, not supernatural.
  6. UNSPIRITUAL [Sensual]– the Greek word is the root of the word ‘soul’ [living, breathing being] but used in reference to the animal world. Animals are driven by self-preservation, instinct and appetite. When we are driven by those three things, we are acting like the animals.


  1. UNDERSTANDING–[v.13]Intelligent, it knows how to use knowledge [v. 13] Rabbis were high on understanding how to use knowledge which is wisdom. The Rabbis believed that wisdom was forming the best plan and then have the understanding to execute the plan.
  2. INCARNATED–[v.13] Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. {NRSV} Divine Wisdom is shown by the manner in which we live. It is exhibited in our daily life. [Illustration: Zac in Luke 19]
  3. ACTIVE–[v.13] Divine wisdom reveals itself in deportment, behavior, attitude and good deeds. It is not passive or lazy.
  4. PURE–[V.17]  [Hagnos] from which we get the OT word for holy. Pure means chaste, modest, holy, free from carnality and full of reverence and awe.
  5. PEACABLE–[Erenikos] [v.17] Related to peace, peace loving, peaceful.
  6. GENTLE–[V.17] not the word for meekness found in versed 13 but close. This word means suitable, equitable, fair, mild.
  7. WILLING TO YIELD–William Law, “My first business is to do the will of God.” The truly wise man is forever ready to obey God. He is determined but not stubborn; always willing to listen to reason and always committed to obeying God. No human can be right all the time.
  8. MERCIFUL–Greek word eleos. The Greeks defined it as pity. In Christian team, it means much more than pity, it means mercy for a man who doesn’t deserve it. Pity is simply a feeling but mercy in the Christian sense involves deeds of kindness [Good Samaritan]. We feel pity, we show mercy.
  9. WITHOUT PARTIALITY–Unwavering {NASB} Greek word is adiakritos which means ‘undivided’. I would translate it ‘integrity’. Divine Wisdom is full of integrity. Together, solid, not duplicitous.
  10. SINCERE–Without hypocrisy. William Barclay: Divine wisdom is not a pose and never an act. It does not deal in deception for it’s own ends. It is not the wisdom which is clever at putting on disguises and concealing it real aims and motives. Divine wisdom is purely honest.


A true man of wisdom, teacher or preacher or whomever, meekly tolerate the sins of others and they do not cease to sow seeds of righteousness and peace. They strive to correct the faults of others by peaceful means. They moderate their zeal with the condiment of peace, for those who wish to be physicians to heal vices ought not to be executioners!


The Tongue [Part Two]


 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring [fountain, NASB] of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.




We are talking about the tongue which James describes in detail: The Tongue Is:
  1. A very small part of the body but it boast of great things.
  2. A flame [blow torch] set on fire by hell.
  3. A force that cannot be tamed.
  4. A restless evil, full of deadly poison.
  5. A fountain that bring forth whatever is in the heart.

We all sin and come short of the glory and perfection we see in Jesus. We have all done things and said things that hurt other people. Any person who denies this is calling God a liar [1 John 1:10]. James said, We all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. So the fact is, we have made many mistakes with our tongue and not all of them were malicious; some were just careless. One of our problems is denial: we see the sins of others but we don’t see our own, especially as it relates to the tongue. This is not a new problem. Tonight we are going to look at the sins of the tongue as described in Proverbs. Many of these are also mentioned in the N.T.

  1. GOSSIP [to murmur or whisper, to be spacious, to be open, wide open: Webster–casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.
    • Moses [Lev. 19:16] Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.
    • David [Ps. 41:6] They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.
    • Proverbs 11:13– A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.
    • Proverbs 16:28– A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
    • Proverbs 17:4– Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.
    • Proverbs 20:19–A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers. [NASB–
      He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.
    • Proverbs 25:10–Others may accuse you of gossip, and you will never regain your good reputation.
    • Proverbs 26:20–Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.
    • Paul [2 Cor. 12:20]–For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior.
  2. SLANDER [the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation]
    • Psalms 15:1-3–O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue.
    • Proverbs 10:18–He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool.
    • Isaiah 32:7–As for a rogue, his weapons are evil; He devises wicked schemes to destroy the afflicted with slander.
  3. LYING [to make  deliberate untruthful; deceitful and false statements such as propaganda]
    • Proverbs 6:7–Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood.
    • Proverbs 12:19–Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.
    • Proverbs 21:6–The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.
    • Proverbs 26:28–A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
  4. FLATTERY [Overly complimentary, excessive praise]
    • Psalms 12:2–They speak falsehood to one another; With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
    • Psalms 12:3–May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaks great things.
    • Proverbs 7:21–With her many persuasions she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him.
    • Proverbs 26:28–A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
  5. TALEBEARER [A person who spreads gossip or confidential information causing unnecessary harm]
    • Proverbs 11:13–He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.
  6. BACKBITTING [A person who is looking for a safe place, away from the presence of the one they are talking about: malicious talk about someone who is not present]
    • Proverbs 25:23–The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance
    • Psalms 75:4–“I said to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn.
    • Proverbs 27:1–Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
    • Jeremiah 9:23-24–Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.
    • Romans 1:29–They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 
    • 2 Timothy 3:1-5–But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

Dishonorable Mentions

  1. Innuendo–an allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive or disparaging one.
  2. Exaggeration–a statement that represents something as better or worse than it really is. An overstatement or magnification.
  3. Profanity–blasphemous or obscene language. Swearing, filthy or foul language, cursing blasphemy, irreverence, disrespect and sacrilege.

The Inflamable Untamable Tongue

SCRIPTURE: James 3:1-6

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.


James begins chapter 3 with a caution to those who would be ambitious about being spiritual leaders and teachers. We teachers are judged more strictly because we are in a place of great influence. We can lead people into error as well as truth is we say the wrong things. Teaching the word of God is an awesome responsibility. My goal has been to follow the example of John the Baptist, John didn’t perform miraculous signs,” they remarked to one another, “but everything he said about this man [Jesus] has come true.” My greatest fear and concern when I walk into the pulpit, that I might mislead some poor soul by stating something that is not true.

The false teachers subtly and with pre-mediation misrepresent the truth. James is not addressing false teachers. In verse 2 he says, “Indeed, we all make many mistakes.” First of all, note the ‘we,’ which means James is including himself. Secondly, not the word ‘mistake’ which is the Greek word ptaiō and it means to stumble or to cause to stumble. Sometimes we refer to a gaffe in our speech as a ‘slip us’ and this is the kind of thing James is addressing. The work ptaiō does not refer to an intentional error. No one stumbles intentionally. We may stumble because we are in too big of a hurry or because we are careless but a stumble is an unintentional error. This is why the NLT translates ptaiō as a mistake.

We all make many mistakes but those of us who do public speaking are prone to make more, at least our mistakes are more visible. I rejoice that my sermons are not on network TV. Can you imagine the trouble I would get into by that kind of exposure. It is James conviction that the tongue is the most difficult member of the body to control and if a man get’s his tongue under submission, he would be very close to perfection. I heard a very well known and eloquent preacher make a gaffe…he said “the tree lost control and hit a car.” The place was packed with preachers and we laughed at his gaffe. He was upset and irritated at the audience because the story he was telling was not funny and he had no idea that he had misspoken. He was both embarrassed and angry. All preachers make these kind of mistakes and most of the time, we don’t even realize we have made them. It is very easy to make an unconscious mistake when you are speaking.


I have had trouble outlining these verses but I do wish to make the following points: 


When we make a gaffe or when we misstate something that could be misleading: we should correct the mistake ASAP. Every teacher and preacher will make mistakes in this area and we need to humble ourselves and make amends as quickly as we can. I quoted a preacher once who said, “Germany is divided because of the holocaust and they will always be divided.” He was wrong and I was wrong for quoting him. It sounded good at the time but he didn’t know what he was talking and neither did I. James was much more of a perfectionist than I am and he confessed to stumbling in many ways. If he stumbled in his speech, I know it is going to happen to me. The caution is to be careful and the admonition is to be humble and correct your mistake if possible as soon as possible.


3We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

James is talking about influence: The horse weights from 500 to over 1000 pounds. We had a Belgium mare that weighted close to a 1,000. A bit might weight one pound. Compared to the horse it is tiny but it has tremendous influence on the direction of the horse. The same is true of the ship and rudder. The emphasis is on the contract: the rudder is small and the ship is huge, yet the rudder determines the direction.

Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 11, “Your children did not see the miracles and sign the LORD did in Egypt. They did not see what the LORD did to the armies of Egypt, how they were drowned in the Red Sea. Your children did not see how the LORD provided for you in the wilderness. They did not see the ground open us and swallow Dathan and Abiram and all their possessions but you have seen all these mighty miracles with your own eyes. Some commit yourselves wholeheartedly to God’s word and teach His word to your children. Talk about what He has done when you are in your home, when you are on the road, when you go to bed and when you get up. Write them down and hang them on the wall. Do this for your children’s sake.

Why did Moses admonish parents to teach their children: because the words of parents carry great influence. My son mentioned this last week in his sermon. He teaches his children not to waste food. Mother always said, “Son, don’t let your eyes get bigger than your stomach.” I knew that whatever I put on the plate, I had to eat. This is the way I raised my children. My daddy’s only sermon was on wasting food or complaining about what we had.  I use to sit at the dinning table and say to myself, “here we go again, the story of the little German kids scrounging through the garbage looking for something to eat.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but daddy’s words were penetrating my thick skull. I heard that speech so many times I can repeat it today.

Words are powerful when it comes to influence. By good sound biblical teaching, we can point our children in the right direction.


But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

Again note the contrast: tiny spark and great forest fire. One match, one spark, one cigarette can ignite a fire that will burn millions of acres. Many forest fires are started by carelessness on the part of humans, yet the destruction is just as real as if they had done it intentionally. Long story short: the tongue is a blow torch and it can do a lot of damage in just a short time.

Even children pick up on the destructive power of the tongue. At an early age, they learn to say hurtful and hateful things. Children are horrible about making fun of other children. My grandson came home talking about Spook and I ask him who he was talking about…quickly he gave the correct name. I said, “Son, I don’t think his parents would appreciate you calling him Spook.” He said, “Granddaddy, he loves it.” The boy did want attention and he would take whatever he could get but I doubt seriously that the nick name was affirming.

My son let it slip one day that he didn’t like a certain coach whom I had known for years. I said, “Son, why don’t you like coach _________?” He said, “Because he is always telling me I am a loser and I will always be a loser.” I do not know why a man in his 40’s would tell a 15 year old that he is a loser but it is not acceptable. The man should have been fired but my son begged me to let it go. I said, “Son, you are not a loser and you will never be a loser. The coach is immature, he is talking life a 15 year old rather than a grown man. You don’t pay any attention to him. You are not a loser.”

The liberals are trying to make the denouncing of homosexuality as a sin a form of hate speech. Ridiculous, poppycock, pure hogwash. How many guys have died at the hands of Southern Baptist? If they want to get into hate speech, they need to read Mein Kampf which was filled with inflammatory words about Jews. For every single word, 125 people died. That is destructive speech.

The Jews as a whole are walking in darkness because they rejected Christ and they do many things to bring this hatred upon themselves. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a good example: she is anti-Christ, pro-abort, pro-gay marriage. She is as far left as she can get. There is a world of difference between the Jews who have migrated back to Israel and the rich Jews of America and other industrial nations. These Jews are wealthy, powerful and agnostic. They profit from abortion, porn, and all the filth that comes out of Hollywood. They make us the heart and soul of the much hated ACLU. They are highly intelligent but totally in the dark. Mein Kampf is supposed to be banded but it is a best seller today. My advice to the rich Jews across the globe: stop hating Jesus and help your brothers and sisters in Israel who struggle to survive while you support Obama who is Israel’s enemy. You sure can’t call him a friend or ally. I am not anti-Semitic. I would take Benjamin Netanyahu as our President today. It is the rich Jews who work by stealth just as they did in Paul’s day who are causing this animosity toward the Jewish community. To get their profile, read the book of ACTS. The cross is another example: Jesus was not crucified because of poor or common Jews; it was the rich Jews. Check it out!

The truth is, I have my own testimony about the destructive power of words. I struck the match that got the fire going or you might say technically, I stirred the embers of a fire that many thought had died out. I did not say anything malicious but I had a slip of tongue and said the wrong thing to the wrong person and he wasted no time relaying it to godfather of the family. It caused a lot of pain and suffering to a lot of innocent people. Had it just came back to me, I could have lived with it but it affected my mother more than anyone else. I hurt the very person I wanted to protect. Due to my careless tongue, she had family that never spoke to her again. Mother’s siblings were always important to her; at times, I felt too important. I figured she would never speak to me for what I had done but when I apologized to her and explained how the entire thing was my fault she said, “It’s not your fault son, don’t worry about it.” It was my fault. I spoke without thinking. It was a foolish and stupid mistake that lead to a lot of unnecessary hurt.

I can tell you from experience, the tongue is a small member of the body but it can do unbelievable damage. My daddy was not a bible scholar and he was not one to quote scripture but his favorite quote was Proverbs 18:7, The mouths of fools are their ruin, and their lips a snare to themselves.