I. "AND THEY THAT BE WISE."
A. James asks in 3:13 "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show it by the way he lives in good works in meekness of wisdom.
1. He then declares that there is a wisdom that does not come from God that is earthly, sensual, and devilish. It is marked by bitter envy and strife in your heart.
2. Those who compete for glory in this world, who want to shine in earthly glory, are often marked by this bitter envy of those who are outshining them. This is not true wisdom.
a. Harbored bitterness will produce among other things ulcers.
b. It will produce tension, and destroy relationships.
3. He contrasts this wisdom of this world with the wisdom which is from above, which is pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to entreat. It is full of mercy and good fruit, without partiality and hypocrisy.
B. The wisdom of this world that brings a man success is measured by how much of the material things a man has brought under his control.
1. They will usually admire his skillful ability to manipulate others.
2. Their admiration is not dimmed by the deceitful ways that were used.
3. I often hear of Madonna being touted as being very wise, of having great business savvy.
a. She is held in great admiration by millions in this world.
b. Little girls all over the world are seeking to emulate her, for she is their shining star.
c. James said that this kind of wisdom is sensual. He surely hit it right on the mark.
d. One day Madonna is going to die, for the scriptures declare that it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment.
e. Though she may shine as a star in this world, if she does not give her life to Jesus Christ, the Bible says that the mist of darkness forever will be her destiny.
d. To shine as a sex symbol in this world certainly has a limited duration. How sexy can a 95 year old great grandmother be? If she should live that long and have a family.
e. Being generous let's give her 30 years in the limelight of this world. What is 30
years compared to the eternal darkness?
4. Jesus spoke of the man who did not consider the eternal things as a fool though he would have been considered wise by the worlds standards.
e. Jesus said that he was rich, and had increased his goods to the extent that he did not have enough space to store his riches. Facing this dilemma, he decided to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones to have room for his riches. Jesus said that the Lord said to him, "You fool you are going to die tonight, then who will spend your riches?"
5. Paul in Corinthians tells us that the wisdom of this world is looked upon as foolishness by God.
6. Any man who lives only to shine in this worldly sky and does not take eternity into consideration is a fool.
C. The man that is truly wise will measure the activities of his life by eternity. What eternal value can come from this?
1. Jesus spoke of laying up treasure in heaven rather than here on this earth.
2. In Col. 3:1
Paul said, "If you are risen with Christ seek those things that are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, and not on the things on the earth."
D. As Daniel is speaking of those that are wise, he is speaking in context of the resurrection and eternity.
1. "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
2. You that have prided yourself as being wise, have you truly been wise in light of eternity?
E. The result of true wisdom will be to shine as the brightness of the firmament.
1. The firmament is the atmosphere that surrounds the earth that is illuminated by the sun. Shining as a bright day.
2. Your life illuminated by the Son of God should shine in the darkness of this world.
3. Jesus said to His disciples that they were the light of the world. They were to let their light so shine that when men saw their good works they would glorify their Father in heaven, who was the true source of light.
F. There is even a greater shining.
II. THOSE THAT TURN MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS.
A. The main purpose that God has left you here on this earth is that you might bear witness for Him.
1. If the very moment a person accepted Jesus as his Savior, God would rapture them out of this world, there would be no one left here to witness for Him.
2. We are left here to be his witnesses of how His grace and love can sustain us in this environment ruled by the power of Satan.
3. This world ruled by sin is filled with pain, sorrow, and death.
4. Being a Christian does not exempt me from these things, but it does give me a source of power by which I can joyfully endure these things.
5. Many times the greatest witness that you can give to a worldly person is the joy and peace that you exhibit in the midst of a great trial of suffering. That joy and peace that comes from fully committing yourself to the loving purpose of a heavenly Father, knowing that all things are working together for good because you love God and are called according to His purpose.
6. The witness of your life will always have a greater effect than the words that you might share.
a. Many times your words are nullified by your actions.
b. If you are witnessing to your friends of the peace that Jesus has brought to your life, and then you panic and go to pieces under pressure, your witness has been destroyed.
c. But if you exhibit that peace under great pressure, then your witness is verified, and they will be far more apt to listen to you.
d. I believe that this is the purpose that God sometimes allows us to go through heavy trials, and tells us to rejoice in tribulations.
e. What a powerful witness it is to the world to see you rejoicing in tribulation.
f. I think of the powerful witness given to this community by our organist, when she requested to speak to the man who sought to rape her and cut her throat, that she might witness to him about the love of Jesus Christ, and give him a Bible that he might read it in prison.
B. Are you seeking to turn many to righteousness?
1. Sometimes we take the worldly view that a persons religion is a very personal thing that should not be talked about.
2. That is a lie of Satan to discourage one to witness.
3. Your loved ones and friends are going to face eternity without hope, if you do not talk to them of the fact that Jesus was the Son of God and He gave His life to provide us forgiveness of our sins.
C. What is the result of turning many to righteousness? They shall shine as the stars, forever and ever.
1. There are many who strive for stardom in this world.
2. There are those that we refer to as superstars. How many people aspire to this status. They live their whole life dreaming of being superstars.
3. They picture themselves walking forward to receive the Oscar award and think of the clever things that they will say to the adoring, applauding crowd.
4. They want their name to be placed in a star in front of the Grauman Chinese Theater. They want to be placed in the Hall of Fame. They want to be known as being in the Who's Who rather than Who's He?
5. Again, there is no thought of eternity. They want to shine now in this world.
6. This is in marked contrast to shining as the stars forever and ever.
7. I enjoy the fourth of July. I love to watch the fireworks, I love skyrockets.
a. I love it when I hear the loud boom, and I see the night sky illuminated by the brilliant bursts of colors. I with the rest of the crowd, oh, oohs, and ah's.
b. For a time it obliterates the stars from our view. But the flash is so soon over, and there is nothing left but ashes.
8. Some peoples lives are like the skyrockets, they make a great flash on the worldly scene, but their lives are soon turned to ashes.
9. When the fireworks display is all over, and your eyes once again become accustomed to the darkness, you see the stars still shining in that night sky. They go on night after night not making as big a display, yet permanent.