Heavenly Wisdom vs Earthly Wisdom :: James 3:13-18

A few weeks ago I was given the privilege of preparing a short message on James 3:13-18 for our series on the book of James, which is the small section at the end of James 3 on wisdom as it pertains to the taming of the tongue. The entire message is available on PDF at Heavenly Wisdom vs Earthly Wisdom :: James 3:13-18 or you can go to my writing section and find it there as well.

After reading this little section on James over and over and over again, and studying it as best I could, I have really come to love the words of wisdom found in James 3:13-18.  At the end of James 3, in a chapter almost entirely dedicated to taming the tongue, we come across this small section, which almost appears to be thrown in by James as an afterthought on wisdom. While it may seem out of place at first, James knew it was not intelligence, or great knowledge, which could tame the tongue, but wisdom, a heavenly wisdom found in “humility, grace and peace” (BKC, 828). There is just no other way to control the tongue than with a heavenly wisdom from above.

James 3:13-18 is a story of wisdom presented as two completely different sides of the same coin, one that we still see played out in our world today. On one side of the wisdom coin, we have a heavenly wisdom from above, which is full of mercy and peace. On the other side, we have an earthly wisdom, which is characterized by jealousy, envy, pride, and selfish ambition. James says seeking after a heavenly wisdom results in an abundance of God’s peace in our lives, while seeking after earthly wisdom, leads to disorder, and “every vile practice” we could possibly conceive.

Our own culture thrives on this earthly wisdom to fulfill the “American Dream” by “looking out for number one,” or “climbing that corporate latter,” and in using our abilities and knowledge to gain an advantage over someone else.  Obtaining more earthly wisdom, whether it comes from our latest smart phone, music, movies, or from the most esteemed pastor we know, doesn’t help to control the tongue. Earthly wisdom might temporarily satisfy our desire to outdo our brother, but rarely will this show God’s love. We probably all know people who have accumulated vast sums of knowledge, which can impress us with fancy arguments, competition, or rivalry. But I can still find this in myself as well, buried deep in my heart where many sins can reside without ever seeing the light of day.

So what is the difference between heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom? James gives us a great way to test ourselves for Heavenly wisdom, and it sounds unlike what we normally hear in many other parts of Scripture, it comes from our behavior. At some point, knowledge can turn into heavenly wisdom through proper application of living out our lives manifested in our actions. What this means is heavenly wisdom will be seen by our conduct through humility, and meekness, not by gaining vast sums of knowledge, or in our ability to outdo one another. We can ask ourselves, are we gaining in the wisdom of God? Apart from a true desire to walk in a manner pleasing to God, no one really has true wisdom, and without true wisdom, we have little hope of taming our tongue.

I sometimes have a tendency to argue my point with just about anyone who will listen. This only solidifies my understanding of how difficult it is for a tamed tongue to coincide with an earthly wisdom, which James even calls demonic. If heavenly wisdom is applying knowledge properly, according to God’s will, how do we really know we have achieved wisdom from above at all? We know we have the wise answer, the response of wisdom, because it won’t be argumentative, contentious, or self-seeking. It will be gentle and peacemaking, and clearly seen by others through our actions in Godly behavior.

10 Ways to Continue to Create Original Ideas

Well this is start of the first full week of the new year, and actually the first official week in my position here at work.  I want to say I am getting settled in but I think I did that in the month of December.  As I sit here in a borrowed office for today I am thinking about so many new things going on here at Cornerstone that makes it an exciting time here, and a busy time.

This week we started a new series called “Alive”.  We will be going through the book of Colossians for the next month, and at the same time starting a walk through journaling our thoughts and questions as we study through this book.

The creative minds over here decided to do something different and actually engage (not that we don’t try to do that anyway) with everyone on a different level.  We started a website (http://www.thealivejournal.com) that corresponds to a paper journal everyone received on Sunday.

As we walk through the book, the website will be updated with new scriptures and an application each day for the remaining of the series.  A fresh approach and something that will hopefully catch on with others.  I know writing is like many other things in life.  The more you write, the better you get, and the more you write.

How Do We Continue to Create?

How do we continue to create?  It doesn’t matter if you are working for a church, a school, self-employed, or whatever, creativity is important, it keeps our minds “alive”.  Opening up and becoming more creative is something I strive to do each day, but I don’t buy into the notion that there are creative people and people who are not creative.  Everyone is creative, but not everyone allows it to come out, or deems it to be important.

Looking ahead I don’t want this to be the pinnacle of creativity this year.  To me, there are basically three areas of creativity (I know there are many more but follow me here) that pretty much encompass everything else; writing, o-graphy (that would be photo-video), and music.  So, to me, the key is how to grow in each of these areas and find new ways to create in each of these areas.

Anne Jackson wrote a great piece today, The Death of Publishing as We Know It: Who Holds the Smoking Gun? that talks about how the publishing industry has screwed itself into the ground by publishing so many mediocre books.  True, we are not all writers, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write.  As a photographer I would say the same thing.  Just because you are not a professional photographer does that mean you are never going to pick up a camera again?  My key for myself is to write more, shoot more, and read more.

So, as some say, here is a “mind dump” in no particular order.

10 Ways to Create Original Ideas

  1. Write more, read more, and learn more about media
  2. Surround yourself with creative minds when you can
  3. Ask someone for help or suggestions
  4. Expand what you normally do and be different
  5. Get out of your routine, go outside your normal elements
  6. Remember your focus – what is it, making money, salvation, discipleship?
  7. Don’t copy —- take, redesign, and create something new
  8. Don’t be afraid of the box – throw the box out and don’t worry about what is “correct”
  9. Think for yourself.  Don’t let others tell you how to think.  Study and think for yourself
  10. Be prepared to fail and try something else

Number 7 is a little vague I know.  What I mean is what we read from Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:

9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Most “new” is something that was improved upon from something or someone else.  So find something good and make it great.  My problem is always “finding the new”.

This is really my list for myself.  I have never felt like I was a very creative person but most of that is because I refused to let it surface.  It had no real purpose.  Perhaps the older I get the more important it is and the harder I have to work at it to get better.