October 2018   
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James 3: 13 – 4: 3 Friendship with the World

9/23/2018 Rev. Jerry W. Krueger Boardman United Methodist Church

Can you think of any words of wisdom you would offer to a person seeking counsel from you? Buy low, sell high. Let a sleeping dog lie. Better safe than sorry. Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t grab the electric fence. Wear your seatbelt. Measure twice, cut once.


The Bible contains a genre of biblical literature, called Wisdom literature, which consists of the books of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. The central theme of Wisdom literature is to inform and teach the next generation to solve specific problems, and to order their lives in a way that the God created entire race of humanity, must learn to live together.

Open your pew Bibles to page 663, Proverbs chapter 1, verses 1-7. It explains the purpose of wisdom literature, and consequences for the fool who despises wisdom and discipline.


That’s a key issue in life today, people who want no discipline, who want to be on their own, want to answer to no one. No judge, no cop, no teacher, no employer, no township authorities, no Savior?


James espouses two varieties of wisdom. Earthly, unspiritual, devil breathed wisdom, centered in bitter envy, and selfish ambition, which results in disorder and every evil practice. On the other hand comes heavenly wisdom that is:

  1. Pure; 2. Peace loving; 3. Considerate; 4. Submissive

  1. Full of mercy and good fruit; 6. Impartial and sincere.

Wisdom comes in many forms and I’ll let ya’ll sort out this bit of West Texas wisdom for yourselves uttered to me by a long time cowboy when I served in Albany, Texas.


“Preacher, here’s a bit of wisdom for ya,” said, Morris Dee, “be careful when you walk behind your horse, and never sit on your heels when you’re wearing spurs.”


The world’s wisdom is often coated with self-justification that is whispered subtly in our ear. Like, “you better get them, before they get you.” “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” ”Don’t rock the boat, keep your mouth shut.” “ It was only a little bit of a lie.”

Often the World’s wisdom is powered by our envy, self-ambition and self-preservation. Why? Because there is great risk in being vulnerable with others.


When a parishioner says, “Pastor, I need to speak to you about an issue at work, in my home, with my parents, with my boss, with my kids, with another parishioner,” there is risk that if I am not trustworthy, I potentially harm their life. And that is why it is wise to be careful before speaking.


Years ago, I shared a personal story in regard to my family with another clergy person. I asked, “Can I trust you to keep this confidential?” And the reply? “Yes of course.”


Couple weeks later at a clergy meeting, a person I didn’t know well, speaks to me in the presence of others, “Wow, Jerry, sounds like you have a lot going on with your son Mike.” I pulled him aside and said, “Who gave you that information?” And they replied, “Pastor So and So.” The one whom I had shared a confidence. I confronted Pastor Blabbermouth, and as he stammered and stuttered all over the place I told him ‘d never trusted him again, and would caution people about sharing anything with him in confidence saying, “He is not trustworthy.”


Living in the world takes effort, courage, fortitude and persistence. We live in a broken and imperfect world, with people like each of us, that are imperfect. However, as Christians we attempt to live in the God breathed heavenly wisdom that seems to fly in the face of what the world says.

Hear me church. This is not about you rolling over and letting people dance all over you and your life. Speak up for yourself with boldness. This is about taking the high road. Calling out evil where we find it, fighting it, battling it, and not letting ourselves become sucked down into human ugliness, that is sometimes couched in kindness.


The world and its workings are, hear me, NOT ABOUT YOU! Any of US. The world does NOT center on you, orbit around you, despite what some might believe, act like, or say.


It is difficult, sometimes exhausting work to live, not of this world isn’t it? Because sometimes the kindness we offer to others, is rejected, and sometime paid back with lies, or bad attitudes, or anything but kindness.


Living in the world we should live with our head on a swivel. When I served an inner city Columbus church, I always had my head physically, mentally, and spiritually scanning. I kept myself alert to physical, mental or spiritual attacks that would harm me, or my family, or congregation. I live in the real world.


I am a Believer, a Follower of Jesus the Risen Christ, He is the one who saved me, who offered me the gift of new life. And for that I am eternally grateful. And I believe Jesus is the Truth, the Way, and the Life. And I know that studying Jesus’s life, following his teachings, stretching myself in little ways daily, enables me to live a life worthy of calling myself, a Christian.


We know there are those who are not like you and me. Those who do not share our beliefs. Those who believe it is okay to lie in church, to not support the church. Those who weasel on paying their fair share to the IRS. Those who believe it is okay to look the other way when confronted by bad language, bad actions, and poor intent.


We want leaders on athletic teams, in business, in churches, in schools, in government, to cast a vision for fair play, ethical treatment of each other and those they come into contact with.


But wisdom cannot be legislated. Not in the church, in business, in government. There must be monitoring of self and others that occurs for living and working, in life together. The WWII martyred Lutheran priest and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a work entitled “Life Together.” It is about the struggles of living together in humanity, with those who would destroy a God breathed, and faithfully lived out Christian life.


James says we quarrel and fight because we want what WE want. We bail out of church participation, business, jobs, relationships, when things might not go just right for us.


If we are asking merely about self-desires, if our allegiance to a church, or relationship, or team, or business, is solely about what WE can get for ourselves, ignoring and downplaying the other, then the wisdom we follow is NOT from heaven.


It comes from the world, and the evil one, Satan, is the one who instigates and enjoys causing mayhem and consternation in relationships and society as a whole.


Who is wise among you? If you are wise, you live a life that is full of faith and action, grounded in humility, with no desire for accolades for self. Many of you live your lives that way. Quietly doing for others, not taking credit.


People of God, God calls us through the powerful and humble life of Jesus the Christ, the Savior, Redeemer, the bringer of new Life for those in pain, those whose worlds or lives seem to be crumbling around them. Call out to the Savior who can bring you new life, and offers you wisdom for the ages. In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.