James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” This is truly an incredible promise, especially because I do not know anyone who does not need a little more wisdom.
We all have little devices in our pockets that can provide us more information than we can ever absorb, but wisdom is more than information and knowledge. It seems to me that as our access to information has increased as a culture, wisdom has decreased.
We have plenty of information. We lack wisdom.
What is wisdom? A practical definition for wisdom is: the ability to apply what you know about God from His Word to the problems and opportunities of everyday life.
How do we get wisdom? James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” The original Greek phrase literally reads, “Let him ask the constantly giving God.” Do you know God as the giving God? The whisper in the back of your mind that keeps saying, “God is withholding blessings from you” is a lie. Your God is always the giving God.
The promise in James 1:5 goes on to say, “let him ask God, who gives generously.” The word generously can also mean “simply and sincerely.” Simplicity and sincerity in generosity means that our giving God gives pure gifts. He never returns a favor as payback nor does He expect a favor in return. God’s gifts to His children do not become debts. The good and giving God delights to give gifts to His children without calculating the return.
The promise in James 1:5 ends by saying, “[God] gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” If it is that easy, then why is wisdom so rare?
James 1:6-8 provides a clarifying stipulation for receiving the wisdom promised in verse 5. James says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.”
Let me try to explain. God is not demanding perfect faith before He will give us wisdom. I don’t think perfect faith without ever wavering or doubting is what God requires.
In the Gospels we find Jesus to be tender with doubters, ranging from John the Baptist (Matthew 11) to doubting Thomas (John 20) to the father of the sick boy who famously says, “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9).
In James 2 Abraham is lifted up as a great man of faith, but his faith was not always perfect and unwavering. The overall orientation of Abraham’s life was one of faith, but Abraham certainly doubted and wavered from time to time (Genesis 17:17).
So, what does this stipulation “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting” really mean?
Listen to verses 7-8, “For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
The key is found in the word translated “double-minded.” Many scholars believe James coined this term because this is first time this word appears in all of Greek literature.
The problem is that the double-minded person is trying to live in more than one direction at once. The double-minded person says, “I want all of God’s wisdom and blessings, but I want my way, as well.”
When God’s wisdom is pulling you in one direction and worldly wisdom is pulling you in the other, then you are going to be – as James says – “unstable in all” your ways. Imagine having one foot in one boat and the other foot in another boat and then trying to maintain your balance. Eventually, you’re going to tumble.
Instead of splitting our trust between ourselves and God, why not trust the giving God wholeheartedly? If you can’t trust the One who has already given you everything, even His Son to die for you, then who can you trust? Who else has actually earned your complete trust?
James 1:5 assures us that wisdom is included in all matters and all things.
If anyone lacks wisdom, God says, “Come and get it!”
After serving for several years as Associate Pastor of Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Houston (www.cepc.org), he became their Senior Pastor in May of 2015). Richard and Alicia have four children: Lillian, Savannah, Brantley, and Elizabeth. Besides him being a regular contributing writer for Katy Christian Magazine and Fort Bend Christian Magazine, Richard has also given devotionals on KSBJ and KHCB radio stations.