“If you are in a situation where you are in need of wisdom, take heart. God has all the wisdom that you need, and is eager to give it when we ask.”
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” James 1:5-8 (Msg.)
Four little verses… James 1:5-8 is comprised of merely four verses, but each is packed with practical instructions for how we should live. James is believed to have been written by Jesus’ half-brother. While James grew up in the same household with Jesus, scripture teaches that James and the rest of Jesus’ family were not always 100% behind Jesus’ teachings (Mark 3:21; 31-35; Mark 6:4). This skepticism all changed for James when he had a post-resurrection personal encounter with Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:7). James became a leader and a passionate teacher in the Jerusalem church, and his letter to the scattered Christians contains truths he believed to be crucial for Christian living.
The early Christians who received this epistle faced the same pressures we deal with today—family conflicts, broken relationships, illness, financial pressures, complicated decisions. They were being persecuted for their claim that the promised Messiah was the man who had been executed as a criminal. If there is practical wisdom for James and his contemporaries in their station in life, there is much for us to learn as well.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
Who among us does not lack wisdom? Proverbs 3:5 urges believers to resist the temptation to rely on their own understanding, but to trust in the Lord instead. In 1 Corinthians 1:25 Paul emphasizes that even the foolishness of God is wiser than men. We are all in need of His wisdom. There is great encouragement as James invites us to ask our generous God for wisdom when we need it. Proverbs 2:6 teaches us that the Lord gives wisdom, and from Him come knowledge and understanding.
My favorite part of James 1:5 is that God gives wisdom “without reproach” to those who ask. Without reproach means without judgment, disappointment, or disapproval… The Message translation says, “you won’t be condescended to when you ask.” What a sweet promise that in our position of great need we can approach the One who can meet that need knowing that He never looks down on us for asking.
After dating my future husband for six months, I began to wonder if God was positioning me for something new. As exciting as this prospect was, it was also a little bit frightening. Over the previous years, God had helped me reach a place of contentment in my singleness, and I had surrendered to the likelihood that marriage would not be the plan for my life. After a pivotal conversation on December 31, 2017, I began to earnestly seek God for wisdom in decision-making. I knew that I “lacked wisdom” in this matter and was encouraged by James 1:5 that the Father gives wisdom generously when we ask.
“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.” James 1:6
James 1:6 presents a challenge for many of us as it encourages us to ask in faith without doubt. I have to admit that many times my prayers include an element of questioning. Do I really believe He can do it? Do I believe He will do it? If I am confident that He can do it, do I believe He’ll do it for me? Maybe I just allow a margin of doubt to guard against disappointment if He doesn’t respond in the way I had hoped. James describes this like waves in the sea that are tossed by the wind. I don’t want my belief to be subject to the “winds” of circumstances, past experiences, or worldly pressures—I want my faith to be firmly placed on the Solid Rock.
My prayer for wisdom was not answered immediately; I prayed fervently about this for months. As my boyfriend and I grew closer I became more eager to hear from the Lord through His word. I wanted to be sure that I knew His will for us. I said, “God, this is a big deal and I don’t want to make a wrong move. I don’t want to act based on gut instinct or reason my way through this. I need to hear from your word.” As the months wore on and He seemed to be silent on the subject, admittedly there were times when I questioned if he would give me the wisdom I was seeking. The winds of my history of singleness tossed me about and made me doubt my ability to hear from Him on this subject.
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.” James 1:7-8
The consequences of our unbelief are pretty sobering according to James 1:7-8. The one who asks without believing is described as “unstable, double-minded” and shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. Wow! An unstable and double-minded person is inconsistent in her thinking vacillating from one vantage point to another and demonstrates divided loyalty. I had never thought that my unstable faith is indicative of divided loyalty. God calls us to be resolute in our faith when we seek His wisdom.
Despite my occasional doubt, I continued to pray. As James promises, God did answer my prayer generously. On May 2, 2018, through my routine Bible reading, God spoke to me to confirm His plan for me.
If you are in a situation where you are in need of wisdom, take heart. God has all the wisdom that you need, and is eager to give it when we ask. I knew that deciding to progress in my relationship would change everything for me, and I needed His wisdom. With God’s clear word, I was able to move forward without reservation when I received a marriage proposal on June 1, 2018. I know as I navigate my marriage, I will have to rely on God for wisdom every step. It is comforting to know God stands ready to give it generously when I ask in faith. So let’s ask… and then wait in faith for wise counsel through His word.