“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Wisdom might best be defined as “knowing what to do.” In life, we are constantly faced with circumstances in which we have no experience. We are left wondering what in the world we should do. When James writes, “If any man lacks wisdom…” he is not suggesting that only some of us are in circumstances for which we do not have solutions, but that ALL of us are in constant need of wisdom. The word “if” could also be translated as “since.” The question is not really if we need wisdom, but rather how do we get it?
Wisdom is received in at least 4 ways. First, wisdom comes from experience. If we touch the hot stove, we have learned not to touch it again. Second, wisdom can be received by listening to those who have gone before us. My children learned not to touch the hot stove, not by burning their fingers, but by heeding the warnings of mom and dad. Third, wisdom can be given supernaturally. One of the gifts of the Spirit, given to the child of God, is the “Word of Wisdom.” We saw it in action in the book of Acts when the church was facing an unfamiliar and perplexing dilemma. The solution is given to James that satisfied all involved and provided a solution to the problem (Acts 6:1-7). Finally, wisdom is also received through prayer. That is the subject of James’ exhortation.
Colossians 2:3 “. . . in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Paul reminded the Colossians that all wisdom is hidden in Christ. There is no circumstance which we face that He does not know the best course of action. This wisdom, he says, is hidden in Christ, which requires that we seek Him in order to receive it. We seek that wisdom by taking our situation before the Lord in prayer. “Lord, I am facing this decision and I really do not know what to do. I pray you would show me the right way to navigate through this.” Once we have taken our request to the Lord, we must wait for an answer. This is often where the Christian sways. We forget, while prayer is the way we take our needs to the Lord, His Word is the way He communicates with us. If you want to hear from the Lord, you must crack open the pages of your Bible and read. In addition to daily reading through the Bible, it is a good idea to look up verses that directly target the circumstances you are in and put their teaching into practice in your life. It is through His Word that God will give wisdom to His children.
Questions for James 1
1. Take heed in verse 1 that James identifies himself as James a bondservant (which means slave) of the Lord Jesus Christ. He didn’t at all mention in the epistle that he was the Lord’s half-brother. That says a lot about this man James. He came to know the Lord Jesus not only as his blood brother but as his own Savior and then he became His bond slave.
2. James uses the Lord’s entire title, name, and mission: “The Lord Jesus Christ.” Do you refer to the Lord Jesus Christ as just Jesus or is He the Lord of your life? Are you giving Him the respect He deserves? If God the Father called Jesus “God” (Hebrews 1:8, 9) then how can you call Him anything less?
3. God will put us to the test in various ways. He will test our faith, devotion, and abilities. (to name a few) According to verse 2: How are we to respond to testing? What will be produced if we respond in obedience?
4. In verse 5 James talks about the lack of wisdom. He is referring to the wisdom needed for the various trials we will fall into. We may ask such questions as: “How am I going to solve this problem?” or “How am I going to meet this need or issue?” What do verses 5 and 6 tell us to do?
5. In verse 6 we see the phrase “with no doubting,” which refers to our faith. If we are not convinced that God’s way is the best then we treat God’s Word like any human advice which gives us the option to disobey. Doubt waivers back and forth from God’s commands to the world’s nonsense. How is your stability? Do you find that your prayer life is wavering or doubtful? Caleb said regarding his relationship and trust in God, “I wholly followed the Lord my God.”
6. Verses 9-11 teach us the perspective of rich and poor. In our society today wealth, power, and status attribute so much importance. To God it means nothing. Our true wealth is found in a relationship with the Lord Jesus the Christ. He is interested in what is lasting (our salvation) not what is temporary. (our money and possessions) Are your material possessions possessing you? It’s what you have in your heart, not your bank account that matters to God.
7. Verse 12 begins with the word “blessed” which simply means “oh how happy.” What will we receive if we endure temptation faithfully even under pressure?
8. Temptation in and of itself is not sin. We all have an evil nature and a weakness in the flesh. Today we rationalize sin, bad tempers, gossip, drunkenness, and even gross immorality. But the King of Kings calls them sins. Temptation comes from our own evil desires which are not from God. It becomes sin when we dwell on an evil thought and allow it to become an action. How does James describe temptation in verses 14 and 15?
9. The antidote for us that talk too much and listen too little is found in verses 19-20. For when we are in this mode we are communicating to others that we think our ideas are much more important than theirs. When people talk to you do they feel that their viewpoints, suggestions, ideas, and opinions have value?
10. In verse 21 James exhorts us to get rid of all that is wrong in our life and to humbly accept the message of salvation. Why?
11. Verses 21-27 talk about being doers and not hearers only. It’s important to listen to God’s Word. It is more important to obey it and do what it says. We can measure our growth in the Lord by our Bible study time and the effect it has on our behavior and attitudes. Are you putting into action what you have been studying?
Old Testament: Jeremiah 27- Testing 123