The wisdom from below:
The wisdom from below is a strategy for a competitive advantage in a world with limited time and resources.
A World of our Making
We live in a world of scarcity and brevity.
- This is not how God designed it.
- He created it to be abundant and eternal.
- Disobedience cursed the soil: the soil of the earth and the soil of the body.
- Now we have to toil with both:
- You toil to get resources from the earth.
- You toil to get productivity from your body.
The Daily Grind is a Mood
James 3:14–16 (ESV) – 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. . . . 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Jealousy and Selfish Ambition are Root Motivations
“Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses.” –Thomas Sowell
Let’s Put This All Together
The fear of scarce resources is
- Jealousy (at a personal level)
- Economics (at a collective level)
The pursuit of scarce resources (i.e. the power to control them) is
- Selfish ambition (at a personal level)
- Politics (at a collective level)
The wisdom from below reduces life to a race for resources and the power to control them.
The Wisdom from in Concept
Wisdom we have the luxury of applying because our focus is the exact opposite of the world:
Instead of being earthly, we are heavenly.
Instead of being unspiritual (or natural), we are spiritual.
Instead of being demonic, we are godly.
Instead of seeing a world with scarcity of resources and brevity of time, we see a world of infinite resources and infinite time (abundance, eternity).
Instead of pride, we embrace humility.
Instead of jealousy, we embrace joy (when others do well)
Instead of selfish ambition, we embrace generosity.
The Wisdom from in Practice
James 3:17 (ESV) – 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
- Moral innocence
- Even if we have lived a life crossing moral boundaries, we can return to moral purity
- Click on the following link to hear the testimony Tracy Camilla Johns, who played Nola Darling in the Spike Lee movie She’s Gotta Have It. Her story illustrates how an encounter with Jesus can take us back to a life of moral purity after having lived a morally compromised life. She is interviewed by Becket Cook, whose own testimony is similar. If you scroll further on his channel or google him, you can also learn more about his story: nola darling testimony
- “Considerate” (epieikēs) indicates a willingness to yield to others and a corresponding unwillingness “to exact strict claims” (Hort). [Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 176.]
- Proverbs 15:1 (NIV): 1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
- James 4:1 (ESV) – 1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
Open to reason
- 2340 εὐπειθής (eupeithēs), ές (es): adj.; ≡ Str 2138—LN 33.305 easily persuaded, submissive (niv), compliant (nab), open minded (reb), willing to yield (nrsv, nkjv) reasonable (rsv, nasb), open to reason (neb), (Jas 3:17+) [James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).]
- Willing to be persuaded
Full of mercy
- Regarding justice, you do only what’s required. Beyond that, you show mercy.
- We want to heal unjust people, not hurt unjust people.
Full of good fruits
- Luke 7:35 (ESV) – 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
- Bias elevates power over principle.
James 3:18 (ESV) – 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James 4:6 (ESV) – 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
For view sermons related to this subject, see:
© Joshua D. Smith, Ph.D., 2023