JAMES 3:13-18



The right kind of wisdom is to be a key ingredient in the Christian life. The Christian who is truly walking by faith will be a wise Christian.


R. Kent Hughes – “Being wise does not mean we understand everything that is going on because of our superior knowledge, but that we do the right thing as life comes along.” R. Kent Hughes, James, Faith That Works, (Wheaton, Illinois, Crossway Books, 1991), p. 148


James 3:13 - Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.


James seems to be saying, “Do you consider yourself to be wise and understanding?  Then show it by your good, gentle (meek), wise behavior!”   


Many people consider themselves to be wise.  But wisdom is not only demonstrated by our words, but by our actions.


We show our wisdom by our good conversation, or manner of life.  Someone who thinks himself to be wise, but does not show good behavior is not very wise at all!


We would hardly think of a drunkard or a prostitute, or a bank robber as being wise.

But how wise is someone who is lazy, or lies, or cheats, or curses, or looks at filthy literature or movies?  Bad behavior shows that we are not very wise at all!


We are to show our wisdom by our works.  Of course this would be good works. James has already addressed the value of good works. James 1:27, 2:15-16


Our works should be done with the “meekness of wisdom”.

Wisdom that is meek is gentle.  Being meek does not mean that someone is a wimp.  A person can be strong and yet gentle.  Our Lord Jesus was strong and gentle or meek at the same time. Matthew 11:28-29


So verse 13 tells us that Faith Works Wisely. The rest of the chapter shows us that there are two kinds of wisdom.




Vs. 14 – If you have bitter jealousy towards someone, you are not showing God’s Wisdom.


The words “bitter envying” have been translated “harsh zeal”. 


To be zealous can be a good thing. Titus 2:13-14


Zeal is good when we are “zealous of good works”, zealous to spread the Gospel, and zealous to love others as Christ loved us.   


Zeal is a bad thing when it is bitter or harsh.

Bitter or harsh zeal can quickly become obnoxious and narrow minded.

People in the world often show harsh zeal for what they think is right.  They are critical of all those who don’t agree with them. They are judgmental.

Often people show harsh zeal against others because they are jealous of that person.  It is easy to be critical of another when we want what they have.  We think that we deserve it and not them!   


The word translated strife means to have a “party spirit”. 

It means to want my group to be recognized in the church.

It means to want my group to have its say in the church.

It means to want my group to lead in the church.

One with a party spirit wants his or her group to have control.


The person with such an attitude is told in this verse not to glory or be “arrogant” and not to lie against the truth.

The truth that is being lied against by this bad attitude is the truth of Scripture.


The person who is demonstrating the worldly wisdom of bitter zeal and a party spirit is lying against God’s Word. Romans 12:16-17, 14:4, 1 John 4:7-8


1 John 4:7-8 - Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. [8] He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.


Vs. 15 – This kind of wisdom is of the earth, of the soul, (sensual or natural) and of the devil! It is definitely not from above!  


Vs. 16 – Sensual wisdom produces confusion or disorder and every vile or worthless deed. 

Where there is jealousy or bitter zeal and a party spirit no good can come of it.




Heavenly wisdom is Spiritual.  It is God’s wisdom.


·       PURE


Purity is on the top of the list!

Something that is pure is without contamination.

The Christian has been cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  His life is to be pure.

1 John 3:2-3, Matthew 5:8


How can we maintain purity of our thoughts, motives and behavior?


1.     By being filled with the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16


2.     By being dead to self. Galatians 5:24


3.     By being saturated in and heeding God’s Word. Psalm 119:9-11


4.     By resisting temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13-14




We are to be peaceful or “peace loving”.

This does not mean that there is no conflict in our lives.

Nor does it mean that we strive for peace at any cost.

We already have peace with God through faith in Christ.

We can have the peace of God in our hearts as we pray. Philippians 4:6-7

Part of the Fruit of the Spirit is peace.   


We are commanded to follow peace and to be “peace makers”. Hebrews 12:14, Matthew 5:9


·       GENTLE


This word carries the idea of being considerate.

The wisdom from above is concerned about the feelings and concerns of others.

The considerate person tries to think how others think and to look at things from this person’s point of view.


Being considerate will affect the way we speak to others.

Being considerate will keep us from offending others.

Being considerate will modify our behavior.

Being considerate will make me concerned about the business and needs of others. Philippians 2:4




Some people can’t be reasoned with.

One time at an amusement park, I tried to tell a lady she had given me too much change.  She wouldn’t listen to me and I ended up with a real bargain on some ride tickets.


The Christian is one, who because of having the Holy Spirit  inside of Him, should always be willing to listen and to be reasoned with. James 1:19-20 


Another word we might use for such a person is “teachable”.  An easily entreated individual is willing to learn and is not “hard headed”.   




When we are merciful to others we show kindness that isn’t always deserved.

We remember that God has shown us mercy, and we follow His fine example


When a person is “full of good fruits” he is known for His good works done with a good attitude.

Galatians 6:10




Here this word carries the idea of being consistent.

Somebody without partiality doesn’t use a double standard.

He does not have one set of rules for one group of people, and another for his friends.

If a person is consistent, he will be impartial and not prejudiced against any person or group.


We should always be consistent in the way we think of others.

We should always be consistent in the way we treat others.

We should always be consistent in our behavior.




Hypocrisy means that one is wearing a mask.

A person professes to be one type of person but is actually another.

Again we see consistency here.

We should make sure that our walk matches our talk. Job 27:8


Vs. 18 – James sums up his thoughts by saying that we are looking for a harvest of righteousness.


Wisdom that is Spiritual, that is from above, produces a practical righteousness.

This righteousness is sown in peace by peacemakers.


If we peaceably sow righteousness we will receive a bumper crop of righteousness.  This is a great result from adhering to the “wisdom that is from above.





Let us strive for spiritual wisdom.