James 3:13-4:3 tells the story of two radically different views regarding wisdom. The first view of wisdom is from the world’s perspective. The natural/worldly understanding regarding wisdom is fundamentally prideful, and largely driven by bitter envy and selfish-ambition. There is (and there has always been) fighting, war, and killing; and as you analyze the motivations behind the fights, the wars, and the murders – you find that they are driven by jealousy and self absorbtion. In a world of such “wisdom” there is disorder (Jas. 3:16). The Greek word for “disorder” is akatastasia, which essentially describes chaos, confusion, utter ambiguity and incoherency. This is the kind of world we find ourselves in, and which we ourselves contribute our own portion of mayhem to.
But here is the REALLY intriguing thing …God does NOT look at the mess we’ve made, and condemn us all to hell (He would be perfectly just in doing so, but He doesn’t!). Instead, God looks at the world – full of depravity and chaos – with infinite compassion, viewing us as sheep without a Shepherd (Matt. 9:36). Essentially, God looks at the fallen world, and instead of wholesale condemning it, He applies a radically different kind of wisdom wherein He immutably decides to redeem it! The decision of God to save sinful man is the story of the Bible; it is the Gospel (Gen. 3:15; 6:17-18; 12:2-3; 15:4-5, 12-21; Exod. 20:1-2; 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 8:4; Isa. 53:5-12; Jer. 31:31-34; Matt. 5:44; 20:28; Lk. 24:26; Jn. 3:16-17). This is what Paul calls “God’s secret wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:7); a wisdom so infinitely mysterious that only by the power of the Holy Ghost may we actually come to apprehend it (1 Cor. 2:7-10). And it is this wisdom (i.e. the wisdom of a King who humbly stoops to take upon Himself the just punishment of His rebellious subjects, because in His love for them He cannot bear to watch them destroy themselves) that the world considers to be complete and utter foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18ff). The wisdom of the world says, “If someone has wronged you, get even; refrain from mercy – and completely forsake the idea of extending grace.” The wisdom of the Gospel says, “When someone wrongs you, forgive them at all cost!” (Matt. 6:12). And we might logically ask “How”? The Gospel’s answer to that question can be found in James 3:17, where essentially we are reminded that it is only by believing our relationship with Jesus (i.e. our union with Christ and the purity, peaceability, and mercy that comes with it) is more important than our relationship with anyone else, that we are able to overcome our impulsive gravitation toward, and employment of, worldly wisdom (i.e. the inclination to act/react selfishly).
The bottom line is this: the world, in its “wisdom”, looks at the Gospel and considers it to be foolish (1 Cor. 1:18) because the Gospel reveals a God who will not settle for a nefarious relationship with His people, but rather insists that it be PURE (Jas. 3:17); and instead of being consumed by a zeal for immediate respect and acclaim, the Gospel reveals a God who is consumed by a zeal for PEACE with His people (Jas. 3:17). Moreover, as opposed to being obsessed with the fact that none of His creation takes Him into consideration, God humbly stoops (in the most thorough, tangible, and unbelievably dramatic way) to take us into CONSIDERATION (Jas. 3:17). And rather than demanding the instantaneous submission of His perverse and wayward creatures, God first and most fundamentally sent His Son to perfectly submit on our behalf and demonstrate to us what salubrious SUBMISSION looks like (Jas. 3:17). And instead of seeing what we, from our perspective of worldly wisdom, would expect to see, it is revealed to us in the Gospel that God looks upon us with infinite love, being FULL OF MERCY and GOOD FRUIT, with IMPARTIALITY and SINCERE compassion (Jas. 3:17).
The story is summed up quite nicely in Philippians 2:1-11 – – – >
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Finally, I want to ask one question. If the wisdom of the cross is foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:18), then what ought to be the EXPECTATION of a person who has put their faith in that cross, and committed to following the man who hung on it? Be prepared to look foolish when the world expects you to be angry, frustrated (and in a posture of retaliation) at the fact that your neighbor gossiped about you, and is utterly inconsiderate toward you on a regular basis; but you respond by dwelling on Jesus over and above your neighbor and the drama of your relationship with them, you respond by being more concerned with peace than with gaining the respect of another person, you respond by considering your neighbor over and above yourself, you respond by taking a humble posture of indelible curiosity & teachability (i.e. “what can I learn from this person/situation”), and you respond with mercy instead of spite …BE PREPARED TO LOOK LIKE QUITE THE FOOL IN THE EYES OF THE WORLD IF YOU FOLLOW JESUS.