The Walk of Wisdom
Sermon Summary
This message examines four examples of how Christ used wisdom in dealing with difficult and demanding situations. Three of these examples look at how Jesus dealt with the constant questioning and nitpicking of the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day. The fourth looks at Jesus’ practice of getting away to pray and seek The Father’s wisdom before making important decisions. The message looks at how each example could be applied to an individual’s life in today’s world.

Community Group Discussion Guide
1. Can you think of a time in your life where you handled a situation without first seeking the wisdom of God? Can you think of some ways it might have turned out differently if you had first consulted and followed God’s wisdom?

2. It’s easy to highlight the hypocrisy and harsh legalism of the Pharisees, however, wisdom dictates we examine ourselves to see if we may have forgotten the intent of God’s laws and are simply following a new tradition of legalism. What are some ways this might be true of the modern church. (Don’t be too harsh:)
1 Pet 1:22  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
1 Pet 1:23  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Pet 1:24  For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
1 Pet 1:25  but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.
1 Pet 2:1  Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

3. Jesus had the wisdom to see behind the surface issue and get to the root problem. So many difficulties in our modern day relationships are the result of our dealing with symptoms rather than root causes. What are some ways we could use wisdom to change this? (BTW, this will require introspection of our own hearts as well as inspection of other’s hearts!)
James 3:13  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.
James 3:14  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.
James 3:15  Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
James 3:16  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
James 3:17  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.
James 3:18  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
James 4:1  What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?

4. Jesus sometimes had to speak the truth in a way we might describe as “tough love.” This is never easy, but wisdom will at times require us to take such a step. If we’re going to do this, it is imperative we know God has led us to do so and we must spend much time in prayer seeking God’s wisdom on how to proceed. It may also be wise to seek Godly counsel before taking this step. At least two Scriptures come to mind on this subject. Discuss your thoughts or experience on this subject.
2 Tim 2:24  And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
2 Tim 2:25  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
2 Tim 2:26  and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

James 5:19  My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back,
James 5:20  remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.





SERMON
The Walk of Wisdom

We know from our first sermon in this series, that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. As we follow the ministry of Christ we discover the amazing wisdom He continued to display throughout His life!

Jesus lived in a very difficult and turbulent time in history! Wisdom was a must for survival, but was equally important if He was to achieve the goals for which He had come to this old world!

It seemed at every turn there was someone trying to trap Him, trip Him, or trick Him into saying or doing something for which they could attack and condemn Him. However, we see Jesus use great wisdom over and over again to handle every situation.

We too live in turbulent times. It's a different world in many ways, but the same in many ways. The enemy still seeks to trap, trip, and trick us in negative ways. We must access and use the same wisdom Jesus used if we are to survive and accomplish our God given purposes!!  

Let's pray and ask God to help us get a glimpse into the way Jesus utilized wisdom in His life.

PRAY!

Before we look at our main text this morning, I want us to look at the definition of wisdom and read a few verses about wisdom from the Old Testament.

 God's Word has a lot to say about wisdom. In fact, the word wisdom is found 218 times in 206 verses in the NIV version of the Bible. Let's look at the dictionary definition of wisdom...

 Wisdom - the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

Now let's look at what God's Word has to say about this quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgement...

10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
Psalm 111:10 (NIV)

 And here are a few Proverbs...

1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
Proverbs 1:1 (NIV)

2for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight;
Proverbs 1:2 (NIV)

3for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;
Proverbs 1:3 (NIV)

4for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—
Proverbs 1:4 (NIV)

5let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)

6for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
Proverbs 1:6 (NIV)

7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)

 The writer of Proverbs goes on to state in chapter 3...

13Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding,
Proverbs 3:13 (NIV)

14for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
Proverbs 3:14 (NIV)

15She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
Proverbs 3:15 (NIV)

16Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
Proverbs 3:16 (NIV)

17Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
Proverbs 3:17 (NIV)

18She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.
Proverbs 3:18 (NIV)

19By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place;
Proverbs 3:19 (NIV)

20by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.
Proverbs 3:20 (NIV)

Jesus knew the importance of having and exercising God's wisdom in all areas of life!!

We're going to look at four examples of Jesus exercising great wisdom.

The Walk of Wisdom:
Example One

 We're going to begin this morning with the Pharisees questioning Jesus in Luke 5:33. Jesus depended on wisdom to understand what was going on and how to respond to the situation.  

Let me remind you of the background. Jesus was at a banquet at Levi's home. He was a tax collector. This was probably the disciple Matthew. Remember, the religious leaders had already spoken out against Jesus for dinning with such people.

After Jesus told them He had come to help the people who were spiritually sick, His detractors looked for something else to condemn Him with. Listen...

33They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”
Luke 5:33 (NIV)

34Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?
Luke 5:34 (NIV)

35But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
Luke 5:35 (NIV)

36He told them this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.
Luke 5:36 (NIV)

37And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.
Luke 5:37 (NIV)

38No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.
Luke 5:38 (NIV)

What amazing wisdom!! Jesus analyzed the situation and summed it up really well. The problem was not who He was eating with or what they were eating. The problem was not with Him, it was with those who were trying to tear Him down.

They Pharisees were really upset because Jesus and His disciples seemed to be so happy. They wanted to know why they weren't somber and fasting.

Jesus understood what was going on because He knew the truth about fasting. There was only one fast prescribed by Old Testament law and that was on the Day of Atonement.

There were other times of fasting listed in the Old Testament, but they were usually during times of national sorrow, national repentance or to commemorate something like the destruction of Jerusalem.

The truth of the matter was that fasting had become a prideful activity to make a show of one's religiosity! In fact people would go to great lengths to let others know they were fasting. Jesus had a different teaching on fasting...

16“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Matthew 6:16 (NIV)

17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
Matthew 6:17 (NIV)

18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:18 (NIV)

 Jesus wanted them so badly to wake up from their religious stupor and realize the Messiah, the Anointed One, the One who was to come was in their very presence. It was time to celebrate not morn. Wake up people!!!

The disciples weren't fasting because it was not a time of sorrow. That would come, but now wasn't that time!

In our text today, Jesus told a parable about old and new cloth, and old and new wine. In His wisdom He knew what was going on. 
The fresh and new teachings of Christ concerning the things of God were making the corrupted traditions of the religious leaders look bad.

The purity, sincerity, and authenticity of Jesus' teaching was highlighting the hypocrisy that had become the norm in Judaism. Kind of like patching an old cloth with a brand new patch. The new cloth made the old look bad.

What does this have to do with your life and mine?
Two things…
First, we need make sure we're not modern day pharisees who've forgotten our mission and are just going through the motions of religion!

We need to make sure we've not become so comfortable with the old, that we reject what Jesus is trying to do in our lives and our church. You might say, "but our church is only 12 years old." Believe me,
it doesn't take long for tradition to develop.  

Back when we first started the church, we had a young worship leader name Andrew who came in to lead our worship. I walked through the old house that served as our offices and I overheard one of our praise team members talking to him.

He was telling Andrew, "That's not the way we play that praise song, this is the way we do it!"

I found out that day it only takes about 6 months for tradition to take over.

The guy that was saying this wasn't a bad guy. He's a dear friend of mine, but he just couldn't see at the time how even contemporary can become tradition!

Not all tradition is bad, but if it keeps us from what God is trying to do in our lives today, that's bad!

A second way this has application to your life and mine is this: if people mock you or put you down for your belief in Christ, have the wisdom to understand where they are spiritually.

They are darkened and blinded. Instead of getting angry at them or lashing out at them, pray for them and continue to love them with the love of Christ!

I want to clarify something on this point and on the message from last week. Having compassion, praying, and loving those who are spiritually lost does not mean you have to let them take advantage of you or abuse your kindness.

It's called wisdom. We have to know when to draw a line. When helping someone has begun to enable their poor choices we have to rethink our approach to helping. We may be hurting not helping.
Okay, let's look at our second example of Jesus' walk of wisdom...

The Walk of Wisdom:
Example Two

1One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.
Luke 6:1 (NIV)

2Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
Luke 6:2 (NIV)

3Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?
Luke 6:3 (NIV)

4He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Luke 6:4 (NIV)

5Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Luke 6:5 (NIV)

In this example, Jesus keeps His calm and simply points out to the Pharisees how one of their greatest heroes, King David, had broken the law when the intent of the law conflicted with the letter of the law!

He could have pointed out how trivial they were being. They rubbed a few grains of wheat in their hands to get a snack and the Pharisees acted like they had gone out into the fields to harvest and then worked to thresh large amounts of wheat.

However, technically, the Pharisees had the disciples over a barrel. The issue at hand here was the battle between two ways of looking at religion. One put the dos and don'ts of the law as its center piece, the other put God's relationship with humankind as its center piece.

Remember, in real Christianity it's not what we do for God, but what God has done for us that allows us to have a relationship with Him!!

Jesus wanted the religious leaders and His disciples to realize the whole reason for the law in the first place was to help humankind, not hurt them. In other words, don't work 24/7. Take a break and rest and worship...  

However, if you're so hungry you can't rest, then go to the field and get a snack. That's not breaking the intent of the law!! In fact, Mark's Gospel quotes Jesus as saying this...

27Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Mark 2:27 (NIV)

Jesus was not trying to do away with the Sabbath, He was simply trying to get the folks to understand God's intention for the law in the first place. Such wisdom!

 So once again we see Jesus use wisdom to analyze the situation and discover what the real issue was and He addressed the real issue instead of arguing the relatively minor size of the infraction. The disciples had broken the letter of the law, but not the intent.

 How many times could things be different in our lives if we had the wisdom to go behind the surface of our disagreements and talk about the real issues? The real reason for the argument in the first place.

 How different if we had the wisdom to see the real problem and not just the symptoms? James, Jesus' half brother would later write these words…

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
James 3:13 (NIV)

14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.
James 3:14 (NIV)

15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
James 3:15 (NIV)

16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
James 3:16 (NIV)

17But 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.
James 3:17 (NIV)

18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:18 (NIV)

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
James 4:1 (NIV)

How many marriages could be saved if the couples would only seek God's wisdom and examine their heart's motives? How many parent/child relationships could be improved if both parent and child were to humbly seek God's wisdom?

 We're going to so a whole series on Marriage and Family coming up, so let's move on to our third example...

The Walk of Wisdom:
Example Three

6On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled.
Luke 6:6 (NIV)

7The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.
Luke 6:7 (NIV)

8But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.
Luke 6:8 (NIV)

9Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
Luke 6:9 (NIV)

10He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored.
Luke 6:10 (NIV)

11But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.
Luke 6:11 (NIV)

 Wisdom does not always lead us to play it safe! He knew what He was about to do would draw forth the ire and wrath of the Pharisees, but It was a lesson He had to teach.

On this particular occasion, Jesus actually had the person He was going to heal, stand in front of everybody. This was not so He could wow everyone with His ability to heal, but so He could teach a lesson.

This poor man had a shriveled hand, which I'm sure effected his ability to work and provide for his family. Not to mention the lack of medicines for pain and discomfort back in the day.

There were many reasons for Jesus to heal this man, but on this occasion one of the reasons was to point out the cold, and heartless ways that had developed in the religious system of Jesus' day. A system that could care less about the needs of a crippled man.

Jesus knew the pharisees were unrelenting in their efforts to try and trap Him and find some reason to kill Him.

However, Jesus was equally determined to reveal the truth by showing everyone the intent of God's law and the real motives of God's heart, so he healed the man on the Sabbath right there in front of them all!

 God had never intended for His laws to be used to tear down and destroy people, but to guide them and build them up! However, the Pharisees had found ways to use the law to control people and to have power over them. Jesus, at a later time would confront them with this…

37When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table.
Luke 11:37 (NIV)

38But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.
Luke 11:38 (NIV)

39Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.
Luke 11:39 (NIV)

40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?
Luke 11:40 (NIV)

41But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
Luke 11:41 (NIV)

42“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
Luke 11:42 (NIV)

43“Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
Luke 11:43 (NIV)

44“Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”
Luke 11:44 (NIV)

45One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
Luke 11:45 (NIV)

46Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
Luke 11:46 (NIV)

You might be thinking, "Wow, that's harsh!" I'll explain the harshness in just a moment, but first I know you might be thinking...

"How does this apply to my life?"
There comes a time, as it did in Jesus' life, where wisdom dictates we deal openly with the harsh realities of a situation.

We always need to be as gentle and loving as possible, but there comes a time when you have to confront some things very directly.

This is one of the hardest things for me to do as a leader. I absolutely hate it when leadership demands that I be brutally honest.

But sometimes, to not deal with something up front, and out front, may be more hurtful to an individual in the long run. Sometimes, as a parent, a teacher, a coach, a mentor, a counselor, a spouse, you name it, we have to confront destructive attitudes and actions by pointing them out.

To fail to do so may take away the only hope of the other person opening their eyes to see the need for change! When Jesus talked to the Pharisees the way He did, He was not hating on them. He simply hated what they had allowed themselves to become.

I think Jesus was pretty patient to wait as long as He did before He exercised the option of tough love, but it was time! Again, if Jesus didn't care for them, He wouldn't have gone over to eat with them and it certainly would have been easier to just not say anything.

 So, we want to walk the walk of wisdom like Jesus did, but how do we learn to have the wisdom Jesus had? How do we know when to say something, how to say it, and how to act in a given situation?
Well that leads us to our last, short and sweet example...

The Walk of Wisdom:
Example Four

12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
Luke 6:12 (NIV)

13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:
Luke 6:13 (NIV)

Getting away to a solitary place is not just so we can rest and fellowship with God, it's so we can put ourselves in a place to receive God's wisdom and instruction for our lives! In fact, in this example, Jesus didn't get any rest. He prayed all night long! Wow! Really? All night? Yes!!

There are times when knowing God's wisdom is so crucial, it makes sense to spend as much time as needed to seek God's counsel! Praying and consulting God's Word are two very important ways of discovering God's wisdom.

In this example, Jesus was getting ready to chose His twelve disciples. Such an important decision He prayed all night! If Jesus sought the Father in prayer, who are we to think we can make wise decisions without consulting God in prayer?


In fact, James has another word for us...

5If 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 (NIV)

Let's pray!!