Intelligence Quotient. Do you know your IQ score? There is even an organization some of you have likely heard of, which is a society for people with high IQ’s: MENSA (originally established in England in 1946). Membership in Mensa International is reserved for those who’ve attained an IQ score within the upper 2 percent of the general population. That’s pretty intense. How might you measure up? To stretch your mental agility, here are a couple fun IQ questions:
Q: A travel agent has taken 53 bookings for Thailand, 22 for Bali and 23 for India. How many bookings have been made for Canada? (scroll down for the answer)
Q: Replace each set of dashes with a seven-letter word. The same seven letters must be used for both words. What are the words? “The mother said that continually sorting out the children’s _ _ _ _ _ _ _ had given her a headache and she needed a couple of _ _ _ _ _ _ _ “ (scroll down for the answer)
The Missing Ingredient
Having a strong intellect is a good thing, yet there is an inherent danger in touting our mental powers or relying on human intelligence. A person may have a high IQ and be missing the essential ingredient for the soil of becoming spiritually mature – to grow in the faith and in the likeness of Jesus. The measure of one’s intelligence does not indicate the measure of one’s spiritual maturity or usefulness in God’s mission. Oh yes, God has uniquely used people of extremely high intelligence for His glory. Yet many, many others with great intellects have lived entirely for themselves, defamed the name of God, and brought havoc upon His Church.
So what is the essential ingredient for the soil of growing mature as Christ-followers? Wisdom.
But this kind of wisdom is not sourced in mankind but in God Himself. It’s the wisdom Solomon asked of God, the wisdom we’re called to pursue in the book of Proverbs, and the wisdom that comes from above not from earth. The wisdom that is necessary for the soil of spiritual growth is given through the Word and the Spirit, not the world and self-help manuals. Inasmuch as life-coaching books contain biblical truth, they may be offer some useful guidance. But ultimately, true wisdom comes from God alone.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote an intensely practical letter to Jewish believers scattered throughout the lands north and east of Israel. Confronted by trials from without and temptations from within, these early Christians needed God-sourced wisdom. Therefore, the apostle James outlined a striking comparison between true and false wisdom:
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by his good behavior [beautiful manner of life] his works in the gentleness that wisdom brings. But if you have bitter jealousy and self ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and tell lies against the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from above, but is earthly, natural-minded, and demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder [chaos] and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable [accommodating], full of mercy and good fruit, impartial [fair in judgment], and sincere [un-hypocritical]. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace by those who make peace.” – James 3:13-18 (my translation/comments)
TRUE Wisdom: Guides us to humbly serve others (v. 13).
FALSE Wisdom: Provokes us to selfishly serve ourselves (v. 14a).
FALSE Wisdom: Speaks lies and boasts to get ahead (v. 14b).
TRUE Wisdom: Displays gentleness, purity, and peace (v. 13b, 17-18).
FALSE Wisdom: Reaps a harvest of chaos and evil (v. 15-16).
TRUE Wisdom: Reaps a harvest of peace and righteousness (v. 18).
True wisdom is demonstrated more by character of heart and attitude toward others than by mere words.
Take the Wisdom Quotient Test
So how do our hearts and lives align with true wisdom? Better than an IQ test, let’s pause for a few moments to quietly and prayerfully think through some heart-searching Wisdom Quotient questions.
20 Questions to Ask Ourselves…
PURE in Motive
- What is my motive for…
- Do I speak and work toward building up others or building up myself?
- Do I show off my accomplishments, possessions, or talents to others… or encourage the gifts, talents, and skills of others?
- Do I seek to bring honor or attention to God or honor and attention to myself?
PURE in Conduct
- Am I relying on God’s Word and the Spirit to guide my actions, govern my thoughts, and harness my tongue?
- Am I serving myself through my service or serving others? Why?
- Am I rejoicing in God’s commandments and design for life or resisting them?
- Am I gentle and self-controlled when responding to a disagreement?
- Do my words match up with my works?
- Do I have integrity, humility, and honesty in all I do – in all business dealings, family matters, and Christian service?
- Do I stretch the truth, i.e. expand the story or facts to cast myself in a more favorable light?
- Do I stretch the truth or spread slander to cast someone else in a less favorable light? (Make myself look good by making someone else look bad)
PURE in Attitude
- Do I sometimes think I’m better than someone else? Why?
- Do I regularly believe I have the best ideas around the table?
- Do I think I deserve the best this life can offer because of my good behavior, intellect, or productivity?
- Do I believe or act like I’ve reached a level of spiritual maturity that is superior to most others around me?
- Do I talk first and listen later… or never?
- Do I readily forgive others with an attitude full of mercy when they offend me?
- Am I genuinely interested in and invested in the success of others or only my own success?
- Would others say I’m a peacemaker, a peace-faker, or a troublemaker?
True Wisdom is pure in motive, pure in conduct, and pure in attitude. When the wisdom is pure in motive, conduct, and attitude then…
We are peaceable because we are not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Matt. 5:9; 1 Pet. 2:21-23; Phil 2:5-11)
We are gentle with all others because we are not in it to win an argument but to win a brother or sister. (Matt. 5:5; 18:15-18)
We are reasonable because we know we are also in need of further growth and have faults too. (Matt. 5:3-4)
We are full of mercy and good fruits because as God in Christ has watered our roots with His brimming over, never stopping, always-forgiving grace upon grace (like waves on a seashore – see John 1:16), so we are brimming over with mercy and forgiving grace toward everyone so they too may bear a good harvest. (Matt. 5:7; 7:1-5)
We are impartial/fair in judgment because we know we had a great debt we couldn’t pay but it was paid for us at the great cost of Christ Himself, and we are not seeking to lift ourselves above someone else. (Matt. 5:8; 7:1-5; 7:7-12; 18:21-35)
We are sincere (not hypocritical/two-faced) because we are not telling lies to get ahead, playing to the crowd, or seeking people’s approval. We know God knows it all, sees it all, and will judge accordingly. (Matt. 6:1-6; 7:1-5)
The way these fruits of righteousness (right-living according to the new life in the Spirit) are planted is in the soil of peace (not jealousy, rivalry, or selfishness) by those who make peace – within the church, community, and family structure.
God’s wisdom brings in a beautiful, bountiful harvest of peace and righteousness. By God’s good Word and the indwelling power of the Spirit, let’s pray He displays these fruits through our lives today…
IQ question Answer #1: 33 (the number of consonants in each country’s name equals the first number, the number of vowels equals the second number)
IQ question Answer #2: Answer 2a: Battles Answer 2b: Tablets.
Listen to the full audio sermon entitled “Your Wisdom Quotient” (James 3:13-18) by simply clicking on the play button below or by subscribing to our iTunes podcast. This message was originally delivered at North Park Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI on Sunday morning, June 26th, 2016.