Two Contrasting Wisdoms

James 3:14, 16 says, “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”

Verse 15 described that kind of wisdom. It says, “This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.”

Contrast the above wisdom with God’s wisdom. Verse 17 says, “But wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

Our flesh cannot participate in any shape or form with God’s wisdom from above. Earthly wisdom and God’s wisdom are like oil and water. They cannot be mixed. 

Bitter envy destroys the bones. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” Could it be that envy is the root to bone disorders? The Hebrew for ‘rottenness’ is decay. 

Psalm 37:1 says, “Do not fret because of evil doers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.” Verse 7 says, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way…” The word ‘fret’ means to gradually wear away something by rubbing or gnawing. 

To fret about something is to worry or be anxious. Verse 8 says, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm.” How does bitter envy and anger relate to fretting? It is a constant chafing in our spirit. We are rubbing our negative thoughts one against another. 

Here is a picture of fretting and its effects. Psalm 73:2-3 says, “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped, for I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Verse 21 says, “Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind.” Fretting torments. 

Think about what else torments. Unforgiveness. Matthew 18:34-35 says of the one who refuses to forgive, that our Father will turn us over to the torturers. Verse 35 says, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Jealousy is a cruel taskmaster. Song of Solomon 8:6 says, “…jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame.” What else is a fire? James 3:6 says, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”

The wisdom of this world is sensual and demonically empowered. Think about our nation’s present state. Words are being thrown out as truth when they are satan’s propaganda. There is no purity, peace, gentleness, willingness to yield, extending mercy, bearing good fruit, giving preference, or speaking truth. The wisdom of this world radically opposes God’s way.

The antidote to envy is gratefulness. When we are grateful for what we have, it strengthens our spirit. It helps us to walk in humility. It is God’s will according to 1 Thessalonians 5:18. At any moment when we are tempted to envy, we make our next thought one of gratitude. 

The Holy Spirit taught me years ago that an attitude of gratitude dispels negativity. Gratitude is like a sponge that soaks up the negative atmosphere that is ripe for fleshly reactions. Gratitude defeats covetousness which is a cousin to envy.

Proverb 27:4 says, “Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?” Think of Sarah and Hagar. Let’s recall Joseph’s life. Genesis 37:4 says, “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” Beware of any envious thoughts that pop up. They are fiery darts targeting your interpersonal relationships. Practice contentment through gratefulness.

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