James Lesson 3

GAINING, USING, AND GIVING WISDOM (JAMES 1:5-11)

Icebreaker Discussion:  Can anyone describe a person they consider to be extremely wise?  Why or how did you form that impression of them?  Describe the attributes of the person that you consider to be very wise.

1.  I have heard it said many times, "It is better to be considered a foolish person than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!"  While I certainly don't believe in being as brash or insensitive as to speak that way, there is a great deal to be gained by remembering that we should listen more and talk less.  Furthermore, any measure of success I was able to achieve in my professional life was certainly enhanced by the wisdom my Godly mother and grandmother ingrained in me.  I recall Mom saying, "Listen to what the other person is saying, son, before you begin telling them anything."  She also said, "If you listen to them first, the likelihood is, they will like you."

Q1.  Ask the group if they have ever met anyone who talked so much that no one else could get in a word.  If anyone has met such a person, reflect on how that person was viewed by others.  I have met some well-intentioned folks, who talked so much and so fast, I remarked to my wife, "I can't listen as fast as they are talking!"

2.  The Bible connects gaining wisdom with listening.  Look at what God says in the following verses:

a.  Prov. 12:15 - "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice."

b.  Prov. 17:27, 28 - "Whoever restrains his words has knowledge; he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.  Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed perceptive."

c.  Prov. 23:12 - "Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge." 

3.  The Bible also connects gaining wisdom with talking to God and heeding His commandments.  Look at what the following scriptures say:

a.  James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

b.  Psalm 111:10 - "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who do His commandments have a good understanding.  His praise endures forever."

c.  Prov. 3:6,7 - "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.  Do not be wise in your own eyes.  Fear the Lord and depart from evil."

d.  Eph. 1:16B, 17 - "... in my prayers.  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him."

Q3.  What is the difference between someone who has a knowledge of facts contained in the Bible, and someone who is wise in the application of the Word of God?

4.  James 1:5-8 connects the gaining of wisdom with using wisdom or acting with wisdom.  His point of emphasis is to draw on the many learning experiences of life, and use them for kingdom purposes.  He teaches that we need to:

a.  Remember that God gives us wisdom, and He gives it generously!

(i)  The caution is:  don't give (encouragement, money, etc.) to another expecting reward, recognition, power, or influence.  We must give because we enjoy the act of giving, and for no other reason, except some kingdom purpose.  Remember, God wants us to give generously, as He gives to us in the same way.

(ii)  Philemon also teaches us that God is a "lover of gifts", not in the sense of storing up credit or loving to receive them, but just loving to give good gifts, because that is His nature.  We would be very wise to do the same thing to others.

(iii)  Thirdly, we need to always be wise enough to know that we are not wise enough, and must continue to ask God for more and more wisdom, so we can give more and more of it away!

Q4.  Ask the group to discuss whether any have prayed for wisdom to do the right thing, say the right thing, apologize to someone, or volunteer to serve, etc.  What was the answer to those prayers?

Q5.  Has anyone in your group ever asked God for wisdom to deal with someone who talked too much (as we discussed previously) or perhaps someone felt that they were talking too much, or they needed to discuss a subject which was difficult to talk about?  Without divulging specifics, discuss what you prayed for and whether God answered your prayer in the way you had asked or expected.

5.  James offers the following wisdom to the poor man and then to the rich man:  (James 1:9-11)

a.  God gives the poor man a sense of value.  Some of the richest experiences I remember in my young adult years was watching communion and offering services.  In our church, I recall a number of Sunday mornings, during the communion and offering services, that a City Manager was serving communion and collecting the offerings with a man who worked for him as a garbage collector.  What a wonderful micro glimpse of what heaven will be like and the church should be like.  In heaven, there will be no titles, no status, and no class distinctions.  I believe church should be a micro glimpse of heaven on earth, where a rich man and a poor man both give glory and humble service to their Lord.

b.  God gives the rich man or the man of power the opportunity for self-abasement, or the opportunity to see and feel the lowliness and humiliation of status, position and power.  Paul was a living example of self-abasement, when he went from being a prominent and powerful leader in Rome, to spending about two years in prison, where he wrote a letter of encouragement to the Church at Philippi (or the Book of Philippians).  Although in prison, and chained to a Roman guard, he was joyful, cheerful, and encouraging. What a gift from God that both the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak can commune together, serve together, and love the God of creation together.

Q6.  Ask if anyone has Christian friends who are truly poor or of very modest means, yet are calm, joyful, content, and full of faith.  Please describe them to the group.

c.  Both the rich man and the poor man are wise with the wisdom that comes from God.

6.  James tells us that the man who endures trials and temptations, God's way, will enjoy life here and in the hereafter.

7.  The real value of listening is that we learn how to use our ears to connect with the hearts of our fellow men.  God desires that we use our ears and listening skills to accomplish the following:

a.  To avoid making and giving the wrong first impressions.

b.  To avoid being self-centered and help us withhold critical comments.

c.  To stay calm and listen with empathy, so we will be able to understand the feelings of others.

d.  So we can clarify what we have heard and avoid misunderstanding.

e.  So we can recognize that listening is a gift from God, which has healing power for the hearer and the speaker.

f.  To know and understand the benefits of listening and enable us to respond in a God-honoring manner.

Q7.  Ask if anyone in the group feels like God has given them the blessed gift of listening first and speaking afterwards.  Have they always been that way, or did they develop that enviable skill?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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