Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
Often when we go through challenging times we are tempted to hold back instead of hold onto God because trials can affect our trust. When we go through trials instead of turning to God we often turn on Him. State Farm Insurance rated the most dangerous intersections for accidents in the United States based on claims. The winner or should we say loser, was the intersection of Flamingo and Pines Blvd in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Sometimes as we drive down the road of life, we come to dangerous intersections. Often we refer to these intersections as “forks in the road.” These are the major moments in life where a choice we make or don’t make sets us on a course that could influence the rest of our journey. Should we stop or go, should we turn right or left, continue on or turn around and go back? Maybe right now you feel like you are at a difficult or dangerous intersection in your life. It’s in these trying times that the Bible speaks about a divine resource we can utilize to help with these difficult decisions. It’s called wisdom, and often it’s only when we come to these challenging intersections that we realize we have a shortage of wisdom. This is the very situation that James was addressing in verses 5-8. When life’s unwanted and unexpected trials beat down the door, how should we pray, what should we ask God for? James gives us the answer as he tells us to prayer for wisdom. But what is wisdom? Well, wisdom is more than just knowledge. Someone has said that knowledge is the ability to take things apart, while wisdom is the ability to put them together. Wisdom is using knowledge rightly, it is the ability to make the right use of knowledge. While there is an aspect of knowledge in wisdom, it goes far beyond because wisdom involves the practical use of that knowledge to deal with what life deals us. Wisdom is the convergence of knowledge and skill which enables us to make right choices that honor God. In short, wisdom is seeing things God’s way. So why do we need wisdom when we are tugging through the trials? Because while it may be tempting to pray for power, or even deliverance what we really need is wisdom so that we will not waste the opportunities God is giving us to mature. Wisdom enables us to use crummy circumstances both for our good and God’s glory. There is a big difference between worldly wisdom and the wisdom that James tells us to ask for. True wisdom, according to God’s Word begins with God. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This means that if we don’t know God, the one who created all things, revealed truth, and established absolute values, then we will not be wise. Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, this is the reverent relationship of knowing God. One of the ways to gain a proper perspective on something is to view its opposite. The opposite of wisdom is foolishness and in Proverbs 1:7, we learn that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs tells us that fools hate knowledge. The fool is the person whose choices contradict God’s truth. Because the fool ignores God’s value system they consistently make poor choices. As we journey through life we discover that it has a way of creating a demand for wisdom. James says, “if any of you lack wisdom…” The truth is there are going to be times when we do not know which way to go or what choice to make. This is because we are in a state of lacking wisdom and this shortage of wisdom gets highlighted by many different and difficult problems, from finances and family to education and employment. But if we don’t face up to our lack of wisdom, we will never ask for it. The arrogant person is the one who thinks they don’t need counsel and the fool is the one who refuses to admit that they need help. Has life created a need for wisdom, are you facing a situation that you cannot figure out? If you don’t know what to think or which way to turn then you are ready for step two. You see scripture declares that God supplies wisdom to those who ask. When we lack wisdom we should ask God for answers. Rather than frantically trying to figure things out on our own or turning to the world for answers we should go directly to the source of wisdom, God. Notice that James says that God will give it generously, He is not stingy with His gift of wisdom. Not only that but James also reminds us that God will not rebuke us for asking. He will give it without finding fault and make you feel small for coming and asking. Have you ever been in a situation where you dreaded asking someone for help because of all the grief you would have to go through to get it? God is not like that, remember what Jesus revealed about the Father’s attitude toward giving gifts to His children in Matthew 7:9-11, “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Are you in need of some wisdom today? Then ask because God delights in giving His children good gifts.