Study # 57
Thesis: "Wisdom" that is improperly motivated cannot serve the Church well.
Introduction: Last week we looked into motivation for ministry. We are particularly concerned about the motivation for "foundational" ministry--i.e., that ministry which lays the foundation for the rest of the issues of the life of those who give heed to it. We have seen that James focuses, not upon the creedal conclusions of such ministries, but upon the motives that drive them.
Why is this? Cannot true words, even out of the mouth of improperly motivated people, still result in good if they are believed? Yes, but that is not the issue. The issue is the long-term "wear" that goes on between "teachers" and those who give heed to them. Words can be divorced from their human sources if there is enough distance between the human beings; but words that come along with a continual rubbing of shoulders eventually get mixed up with the motivations of those involved. And the motivations add content to the words and create a certain influence of their own which becomes life-impacting. James was not writing to churches that had mega-numbers, but to house churches where the rubbing of the shoulders was relatively intense.
But, according to James, there is a greater problem that simply the problem of false motives. It is what the motives DO TO THE WORDS.
October 21, 1998
- I. James' Contention That Improperly Motivated Ministry is Not From God.
- A. The force of James' words should not be side-stepped.
- 1. He is very light in his emphasis upon specific content.
- 2. He is very heavy in his emphasis upon WHERE the content is coming from.
- 3. This harmonizes with the first century focus upon deceivers who say many, if not most, of the right words, but have hidden and ungodly motives for saying them.
- 4. His point is very strong that teachers are not so much accepted by reason of their words, but by reason of the evidence that they get their words from God.
- B. The force of James' words is that ministry that is not motivated properly is not from God
- 1. James' concept of ministry that is from God.
- a. Life's problem is the continual demand for solid foundations upon which daily decisions are made.
- b. James' promise is that God will provide that wisdom for those who ask, but he does not specify the particulars of HOW God will do that in 1:5.
- c. In this chapter, he DOES specify HOW God will do that--He will use teachers whom He has gifted for the Church.
- d. His concept of ministry is the existence of a conduit through which can flow the abundance of wisdom which He is willing to give.
- 1) The conduit consists in teachers in the church.
- 2) The flow demands two things:
- a) Properly motivated teachers.
- b) Properly motivated disciples.
- 2. James' declaration that false motivation WILL remove the ministry from those which are from God.
- II. James' Contention That Improperly Motivated Ministry IS of the Devil.
- A. He claims that improper motivation reveals a three-fold character...
- 1. Earthly wisdom -- i.e., time-bound wisdom that allows eternity to be displaced by the paltry concerns of this earth.
- 2. Soulish wisdom -- i.e., emotion-bound wisdom that exalts the warm fuzzies over the far more critical issues of the spirit.
- 3. Demonic wisdom -- i.e., self-glory-bound wisdom that exalts human glory over God's.
- B. He claims that it is the MOTIVATION that makes the difference.