"Getting Our Hands Dirty: Wisdom"

Well, I hope that you got to celebrate your freedom as an American this week by watching stuff blow up.  If not, I’m sure that life will go on.  But we had a nice (albeit very warm) evening with a couple of FCC families, sitting on comfy chairs and watching the East Peoria fireworks display together.

Speaking of the FCC family, we’re in the home stretch of our various preparations for our upcoming VBS, starting next Monday.  So please be in prayer not only that we can get everything done in time, but more importantly that God would be going ahead of us, alongside of us, and behind us, working to furrow and nurture the hearts of everyone involved -- our workers, our leaders, the children attending, and even their families.  We don’t just want this to be a fun week -- we want it to be a life-changing week that draws people closer to the Lord.

In our service this Sunday, we had the blessing to host missionaries Adrian and Susie Troyer.  They were originally looking forward to being in North Africa, but have been (shudder) forced to minister on the French Riviera, in the beautiful coastal city of Marseille.  Over the past several years of ministry, they’ve been able to use living in France as an opportunity to reach Muslims from the Sudan, Algeria, Tunisia, and several other North African countries -- amazingly, having a much more international outreach to North Africa while living in Europe than they would have by living in Africa.

God is amazingly smarter than we are...

In our message this week, we chatted about that as we continued on in the Book of James by looking at Chapter 3 (ironically, Adrian reminded me that when he last came to speak at our church two years ago, this was the passage that he’d preached on), which is all about making sure that you’re living out Godly wisdom in your life.  When I say that, it’s easy to get lost. 

First off, we tend to picture “wisdom” as coming from white-bearded sages sitting on mountaintops, or from people of great stature who are highly-esteemed.  And it can.  But wisdom isn’t about age or experience or even directly about knowledge -- it’s about knowing what to do with what you know.  Not just knowing things, but understanding things.

Secondly, unlike our stupidities (which we can be painfully aware of), most of us don’t recognize our foolishnesses (’cuz we almost always seem wise from our point of view).  It’s invariably the other guy who’s foolish, and our own perspective that’s clearly the wise one.

But James warns us that real wisdom isn’t the caustic kind that wins the argument every time.  It’s not the kind that uses words to bite and scathe and demean those around us.  It’s not the kind that groups people into boxes and divides the “them” from the “us” tribes.  No, real wisdom from God builds peace, not unrest.  It’s submissive, not dominant.  It’s considerate, not demeaning.  It’s impartial and unwavering, not prejudiced and self-justifying.

Godly wisdom starts with humility and works itself outward in loving action toward everyone around us.  It consciously builds up others and consciously strengthens others, while our natural foolishness usually focuses on just strengthening ourselves.

So choose carefully when you open your mouth next -- was that really wisdom that you were about to utter...?