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James 3:13-17

Living Wisely

  • Shawn Dean
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • August 09, 2020

James 3:13-17 is about people making all sorts of decisions, many very important decisions, without asking God for wisdom and for His will in their lives. 

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

James 3:13-17                        

August 9, 2020

Wednesday morning I had my first opportunity to speak with and pray with someone in our church who has tested positive for Covid-19-
As I interact with many people over the past few months, a couple of things have repeatedly struck me –
When I boil it all down, the conversations, the subject of fear, the frustrations, the loneliness, the need for answers…

But for those who identify as Christians – I find it boils down to the depth of our faith and whether we are choosing, yes choosing, to live life wisely, trusting God’s will for us.

If the topic is finance, let’s say, imagine the game of Monopoly – with credit cards
Add a credit card and every time you pass go you can make your minimum credit card payment and keep playing – keep living. Such is life for many.
Unwise choices for many.
Let me illustrate some specifics to put this into context.

  • Why would someone fill up their credit cards to extend one’s standard of living?

A wise choice or a foolish one?

  • Why would a family buy a home they can’t afford?

Ron Blue says credit cards & loans should be stamped with warnings like cigarettes; “use of this debt could be detrimental to your future.”

  • And what about our many choices in life?
  • Why would a couple seeking Gods best and His blessing before marriage choose a lifestyle before marriage that doesn’t please Him?     

Wise or unwise? This lesson is about people making all sorts of decisions, many very important decisions, without asking God for wisdom and for His will in their lives.

Wise or unwise?

  • Young people today, especially those in college, are bombarded with offers, many of them financial.

Wise or unwise?

As Christians, why would you or I leave out the wisdom of God in decision making?

  • Without it, people become exhausted and irritable.
  • Communication becomes argumentative.
  • Money or spending is one of the most common reasons.
  • They live out this drama every night in their homes.

Maybe it’s some of you?  The wisest thing we can do in marriage – – regarding our relationships, parenting, health or financial decisions, is to ask God for wisdom.  But some choose to live unwisely.

I.  Live Wisely

Sherri and I – from Newlyweds to a new season –

I Corinthians 3:19-20; For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.”

A.  Wise choices require spiritual wisdom

When we consider one of the top issues around unwise living, it is debt – why?

  • It postpones the real problem
  • Some forced to get 2nd jobs to support it
  • Financial pressure creates hopeless feelings

Many are experiencing financial pressures due to Covid-19.

It plays out in real life in depression – bankruptcy – divorce.

Many walk into my counseling office and say they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or worse – the light in that tunnel is actually a train.

The average American carries over $6000/mo in cc debt.  Americans and Christians are in a sea of consumer debt.

Time Magazine once stated in an article that consumers often rationalize buying “now” before it costs more later.

Are these wise choices?

I Corinthians 10:23; All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

B.  The world’s wisdom is foolishness

What happens if God calls you to support someone in need financially but if you did that you would miss payments or default on a loan – –

God would then tell you – don’t do it – pay the debt first – thus in this example and many similar to it, you are a slave to the lender – – to the debt.

Proverbs 22:7; The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.

It is not only wise to seek Him for direction in your life, it is critical.  The world’s wisdom is foolishness.  If you know Him, then you know your name is written in the Book of Life and He wants to direct you in these important decisions in your life.  If you do not know Him you are choosing that you don’t need wisdom or blessing – His power in your life – a foolish conclusion.

Everyday news headlines contradict each other – no time more evident than the day we live in – when have any of us seen a headline and said;

  • “finally, a great day has arrived.”

It simply doesn’t happen –

  • Are we to be anxious or fearful?

We are to rest and sleep when the almighty God doesn’t sleep.

  • All power and knowledge is available to us
    • We are His children

How foolish to live apart like unbelievers

II.  Wisdom from Above

James speaks of wisdom; Godly or man’s.

  • Earthly – Natural – Demonic


A.  The greatest choice of all

Parents, what if – when a child asks a question, rather than say, “because I said so,” you say, “well, I’ve been thinking about that and it’s not the wisest thing to do –

  • ask them, what do you think is the wisest thing to do?

Vs 17 of James text says wisdom from above is pure…

Isn’t it foolish to choose something else?

  • If you are not walking with God, you have already made this choice.
  • Please change your path.

Living more wisely awaits you.

B.  Contentment is a powerful tool

I know some of you are thinking, what do I know about this topic – If I was 30 years old you would be correct.

But I’m double that now and I’m glad I am because God has already proved to me that His wise living is the way to go.

He has never changed.  You have two choices on how to live out your life. 

  • Wisely – in obedience – striving to gain wisdom.
  • Foolishly – under no authority but your own – having fun, virtually no accountability.

1 Timothy 6:7-8; For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

Over and over the Apostle Paul speaks to our lifestyles – and of contentment.

Philippians 4:11; Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

2 Corinthians 12:10; Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

C.  Living wisely leaves a legacy

It does not mean we should not work hard to advance our vocation – it’s ok to accept more – it’s ok to enjoy the fruit of our labor – what we can afford!  I like nice things –

  • But I’ve had spiritual discipline in my life to enjoy what I can afford.

When our children would ask about something that had a price tag attached to it –  Wise decisions require far more than affordability.  The average adult in America has 4 credit cards.  That leaves a lot of room for not only debt, but for making unwise choices.

Let me offer some financial principles to help choose more wisely in this area:

  1. Never charge more than you can afford.
  2. Never use a cc for living expenses – groceries…
  3. Use your debit card wherever you can.
  4. Use one primary credit card to keep all your  spending together and pay that card in full.
  5. Never make large impulsive purchases.
  6. Make a plan to get out of the debt you are in.

Ask God to change your heart so you make wise decisions and grow in being content.  But the most tragic thing you can do is to live foolishly without Christ leading you.  Why would you do that?  Live wisely – the blessings are to vast to list.

Ephesians 5:15-17; Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and [a]selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, [b]natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and [c]selfish ambition exist, [d]there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [e]reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.


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