But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
We, as humans, prefer the wisdom of the world over the wisdom given by God. We prefer it because, in our natural states, we have our own goals in mind instead of God’s goals. Once again, we only have to take a trip back to the Garden of Eden to see that we started this process very early in our human careers.
James tells us that there are two primary motivations for our preference of worldly wisdom over Godly wisdom: “bitter envying,” and “strife.” One translation words these as “bitter jealousy”, and “selfish ambition.”
Bitter envying and jealousy. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” is a phrase we have all heard. We humans seem to have a tendency to want what we do not have; unfortunately that often means wanting what someone else has. We become envious and jealous of it. The wisdom of God tells us to be happy with what He has provided; the wisdom of the world tells us to covet what our neighbor has. “Keeping up with the Jones,” so to speak.
We can all succumb to the wisdom offered by the world and slip into jealousy and envy. Even those closest to Jesus were found guilty of that offense. In Luke 9:46 we can see how Jesus’ Disciples argued about who would be the greatest among them. In Matthew 20:21 we even see the mother of James and John asking for a special place for her sons in Heaven.
How about us? What are some times we allow the wisdom of the world to drive us to jealousies and envy? Are we worried about the message contained in a song sung at church, or are we worrying about who is singing it? Are we listening to the Sunday School lesson being taught or are we worried about why “that person” is teaching it and not us? What wisdom are we relying on, God’s or man’s?