Pastor Chris Baker, Centralia First Baptist Church
In a world where we often find ourselves at life’s crossroads, facing midlife or quarter-life crises, career changes, or the challenges of parenthood, there’s a booming industry ready to provide guidance. Meet the life coaches, the quarterbacks of personal and professional wisdom. If this sounds like a sales pitch, well, that’s because it is. Life coaches offer their wisdom for a fee, typically ranging from $100 to $150 per hour, and this industry is valued at a staggering $2.85 billion (source: LuisaZhou.com).
But here’s the twist: while there’s value in seeking counsel and support from others, the Bible emphasizes the importance of divine wisdom over life coaches. James 3:13 tells us “Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom.”
Wisdom is a central theme in the book of James, and the overarching message is that genuine faith is visible in our actions. In other words, faith isn’t merely a belief; it’s a force that drives us to live wisely. Earlier in Chapter 3, James focused on controlling our speech, highlighting that blessings and curses should not come from the same mouth.
As stated in Luke 6, “A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” If you heard a recent sermon, you may have been convicted of how you speak. But today, we take it a step further: our words reflect who we are.
A heart guided by genuine faith speaks with Godly wisdom. In essence, genuine faith reflects the wisdom of God. James previously differentiated between genuine and fake faith in Chapter 2, and this contrast continues throughout the book. In Chapter 3, he addressed the contrast between righteous and unrighteous speech. Now, he distinguishes between heavenly wisdom and earthly, unspiritual, demonic wisdom, which we’ll refer to as wisdom from hell.
James emphasizes that there are only two ways to live life, and we tend to lean toward one end of this spectrum. Genuine faith aligns with genuine, heavenly wisdom. There are two types of wisdom, one from heaven and one from hell.
Let’s begin with the characteristics of wisdom from hell, found in verses 14-16. James begins by questioning who among us is truly wise and understanding. He warns against harboring bitter envy and selfish ambition in our hearts, which results in boasting and a denial of the truth. This kind of wisdom isn’t divine but earthly, unspiritual, and even demonic. Envy and selfish ambition lead to disorder and every form of evil.
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard