Note—As you work through the discussion guide, remember that you do not have to answer every question; pick and choose which questions work best for your group discussion.
Read: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
Most people would take this to mean that if we need information, we should ask God to give it to us. For instance, we are trying to discern whether to take a job, make a purchase, or enter into a relationship.
Certainly, wisdom includes information, but biblically wisdom is tied to having a good heart and living a good life than merely having good data.
Read Proverbs 1:1-7. What are some things this opening paragraph to Proverbs says about what wisdom is?
(Where do you see both information and life application?)
Explain: James was the half-brother of Jesus and a pastor of the church in Jerusalem. In Acts 15, we can see that he was well respected and lived what he taught. He expertly navigated a heated disagreement in the church and led the outcome toward truth and peace.
Read: James 3:13-17 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Question 1: If this question were asked in a purely secular setting, “Who is wise and understanding?” What are some answers you would get? What about in a church setting? How would the answers be similar, and how would they be different?
Question 2: What are some famous people in history who are now dead? (Famous for athletics, talent, beauty, power, and money.). The object is not to demean but to get perspective.
Question 3: Why is pride so foolish and destructive?
Question 4: Why does James warn not to boast about or deny the truth if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition? (You would think people would be ashamed of not proud of these things)
Question 5: What are the “qualities” of the “wisdom” from below, and what does it produce in lives and relationships?
Question 6: What are the qualities of the wisdom from above, and what does it produce in lives and relationships?
Question 7: What would it mean to be both “joyfully convinced” and “Joyfully correctable”?
Question 8: Quickly look back through James and find some things that might indicate how we grow in wisdom and what its outcomes would look like in our lives and relationships.
*You could put people in teams and give them passages to look through.
Question 9: How is this wisdom much more than merely getting information for decision-making?
Conclude: Pray and ask God to transform you into the image of Christ. To help you embrace all that it would mean to grow in wisdom.