Big Idea: A heart that is wise will also be humble.
Why do we have conflicts with other people? James says that it is ultimately because of conflict within ourselves. The greed and lust in our hearts make us discontent with what God has given us, so we take it out on others. Why do we not have those things? James says it is because we do not humble ourselves enough to simply ask God – or when we do ask God, it is with impure motives, expecting a holy God to support our lives of sin. As long as we want to lift ourselves up, whether with a thin veneer of spirituality or not, we will find God resisting our efforts, trying to give us the wake-up call that we need. When we humble ourselves, God gives us more than we deserve and draws us closer to Himself.
It is one of the big paradoxes of the Christian life that the tighter we hold onto ourselves, the quicker we lose ourselves, and as soon as we give ourselves away, we find that God gives us more than we ever could have imagined. This means that being wise sometimes goes against “common sense.” During the black plague, it meant that Christians cared for their infected neighbors when their own families turned them out on the streets to die. When believers gave their lives for their testimony, it meant knowing that their blood spoke louder than their mouths. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the hero of the story stopped to help someone laying on the side of the road, knowing that on that street people often pretended to be hurt while gangs of thieves hid, ready to ambush. True wisdom is a life in tune with God, and the desire to humbly let Him show us the way.
To live a wise life is to realize that our pleasure is too small a thing to live for. Tomorrow is not promised, and all boasting about what we will accomplish is simply evil. The wise life is a life not lived for itself, but for God and others. When we are not trying to secure blessings for ourselves, we are certain to find them.
Discussion Idea: What does humility mean to you? How is it different than low self-esteem? How does humility prepare us for God’s use?
Prayer Focus: Pray that God would help us to see how desperately we need Him.