4 Keys to Wise Living

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard
2017 17 May

All of us want to make a difference.We want to make an impact while we can because no one lives forever. Life is so short. We are here today and gone tomorrow.We want to know our life counted for something.We want to be sure we didn’t waste it on things that don’t matter.

Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). That’s a frightening thought because it means you can be rich and famous and popular by the world’s standards, you can be at the top of the career ladder, and come to the end of your life only to hear God say, “It didn’t amount to anything.” If the soul is lost, the whole person is lost. You can’t make a deal with God to get your soul back after it is gone.

We need God’s wisdom because so much is at stake. The little book of James brings us back to this point over and over again because wisdom matters more than money or education or good looks. So let me begin with a question. Imagine that you are in a vast congregation of people. Pastor James, the half-brother of our Lord, stands and silently surveys the crowd. Suddenly he asks a very pointed question:

Will all the wise people stand up?

That’s all he says. A murmur goes across the crowd because it feels like a trick question. Are you being presumptuous if you stand up? Who can be sure about something like that? It’s uncomfortable to think about. It would be better if James had said, “Pick out the wise people and have them stand up.” That would be easier. Here is what he actually said:

“Who is wise and has understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom's gentleness” (James 3:13).

 In other words, “Will the wise people please stand up?”It’s like Kevin O’Leary says on the TV show Shark Tank, “You’ve got an offer. What are you going to do?”

Wisdom cannot be hidden. The fool may keep silent, and for a while others will think him wise. But eventually the fool must speak and act, and the truth will come out.

Before you answer, let’s take a little pop quiz from Pastor James. In just one verse, he gives us four keys to wise living. So what does wisdom look like in real life? Here is the truth of this verse in one sentence: A seeking heart makes smart choices that produce a beautiful life marked by a gentle spirit.

Let’s go through those keys one by one.

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