The Pilgrim’s Progress is a timeless Christian classic. It is an allegorical tale of a young man, Christian, who realizes the great burden on his back and goes in search of relief. Along the way he encounters many folks, several trying to be helpful, but most only proving to be a distraction on the noble quest. Take for instance the excerpt from this interaction between Christian and Mr. Worldly Wiseman.
“Why, Sir,” answered Christian, “this burden upon my back is more dreadful to me — than all the things which you have mentioned! Indeed, I don’t care what danger I meet with along the way — as long as I get deliverance from my burden!”
“How did you get your burden, in the first place?” questioned Worldly-wiseman.
“By reading this Book in my hand,” answered Christian.
“I thought so!” snapped Worldly-wiseman, “and it has happened unto you as to other weak men — who, meddling with things too high for them — do suddenly fall into the same bewilderment that you now suffer. In this perplexing state, they undertake dangerous ventures, to obtain — they know not what.”
As I read today’s passage in James 3, this passage came to mind. James poses a rhetorical question, “Who among you is wise and understanding?” This question is based on yesterday’s passage. The Bible Knowledge Commentary sums these five verses up really well when it says, “A key to right talk is right thought. The tongue is contained in a cage of teeth and lips, but it still escapes. It is not intelligence that keeps the lock on that cage; it is wisdom—a wisdom that is characterized by humility, grace, and peace.”
Because I’m a nerd, I watch a lot of debates and try to hear from those of dissenting opinions. YouTube is overflowing with debates and lectures from world-class scholars. For all their intellect, many of these men are fools (See Romans 1:18–25 and note well verse 22, “Professing to be wise, they became fools”). These men reject God for scientific or philosophical reasons, and then to hear them talk, they validate everything the Bible has to say about spiritual blindness. These men are constantly finding brilliant ways to say very dumb things; but the problem is that too many people heed the words of Mr. Worldly Wiseman and cannot discern that intelligence and wisdom can sometimes be mutually exclusive.
Verse 14 helps us understand that arrogance is often the litmus test for wisdom. Where arrogance exists, godliness does not. Instead, humility is a right perspective of who we are in light of who God is. In chapter one, Graham’s Jumpstart pointed us toward Proverbs 9:10, and rightly so—“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Arrogance is a symptom of misplaced fear. If you fear inadequacy, you become jealous. If you fear a lack of recognition, you become selfishly ambitious. However, if you fear the Lord, then you understand what it means to be created in His image, and His holy standard of righteousness, and that if we fail to meet that holy standard the consequences is everlasting destruction.
One of the primary evidences of our faith is our tongue, but you’ll never control your tongue without the pursuit of wisdom.
What is an example of worldly wisdom that you are tempted to follow?
How has God’s Word challenged that wisdom and what is the indwelling Holy Spirit convicting you to do about it?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate