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James 3:13-18; Proverbs 2:1-15; Matthew 5:3-11

Read James 3:13-18

In this passage James describes two kinds of wisdom. Fill in the table below with all the ways James describes these two sort of wisdom.

Wisdom from above

Wisdom from below

  • How do the things in the second column give the appearance of wisdom (at least in the eyes of the world)? [1]

  • Take a minute to google motivational posters. What do you notice about the 'wisdom' of the words on these posters? Which posters are more like the 'wisdom from above', and which are the 'wisdom from below'?

Read Proverbs 2:1-15

  • How do these words of wisdom connect with what James is saying in James 3:13-18?

Read Matthew 5:3-11

  • How do these words of wisdom connect with what James is saying in James 3:13-18?

  • Look closely again at James 3:17. Go through this list of attributes one-by-one. What does each one mean to you?

  • How might these attributes look to someone who only has earthly wisdom? Do you think a person like this would seem 'wise' in the eyes of the worldly?

Spend some time in personal prayer and reflection - how does your heart and mind match up with this description of wisdom? And how earthly is your wisdom?

Read James 1:5, and spend some time praying for one another - that God would give us more of His true wisdom from above.

[1] N.T. Wright describes makes an interesting observation about James description of earthly wisdom, as someone who is clever and critical,

...someone whose appearance of ‘wisdom’ consists in being able to find a cutting word to say about everyone and everything. There is still, after all, a vast amount of beauty, love, generosity and sheer goodness in the world. Those who follow Jesus ought not only to be celebrating it but contributing to it. It’s better, as the saying goes, to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Jesus himself had declared a special blessing on ‘peacemakers’, and James picks that up here (verse 18)... Allowing a jealous spirit to spill out into fault-finding and backbiting is not only not making peace. It is allowing the build-up of a climate of fear, anger and suspicion in which wars and fightings can all too easily occur.


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