According to James 1:5, how can you find wisdom? When God gives you wisdom, is it easy to follow? (from Juggling Life’s Responsibilities, page 52)
James 1:5 is a wonderful promise, one that I have clung to many times already in my life.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (NIV).
Wisdom is so absolutely essential to my life. The older I get, and the more I read in God’s Word, the more desperately I realize my need for God’s wisdom.
This week I have been doing a daily study on wisdom, only looking in the book of Proverbs. (You’re welcome to download it here.) There is much more in my Bible than just what is found in Proverbs, but it’s all I’ve had time for this week. But it’s whetting my appetite, and I plan to continue this study.
Note: I also enjoyed listening to a two-part lesson my father taught at his church last summer on wisdom, posted at his website, BiblicallyTrue.com:
- Part One: Proverbs 7 – Discerning the Difference Between Wisdom and Understanding (http://biblicallytrue.com/10-07/2010-07-18ssdial.mp3)
- Part Two: An Illustration of Being Devoid of Wisdom (http://biblicallytrue.com/10-07/2010-07-25ssdial.mp3).
But I noticed something just today from this promise in James. I learned that the Greek language has five different words translated as “ask” in the King James Version, and the word chosen here by James is very specific. (Don’t you just love that God sovereignly used the Greek language? 🙂 )
Here are the words for “ask” that James had at his disposal:
- aiteō (Greek #154) – a demand of something due.
- punthanomai (Greek #4441) – to question by inquiry (as a matter of information merely), or to learn by casual intelligence.
- erōtaō (Greek #2065) – to ask as a favor.
- zēteō (Greek #2212) – a search for something hidden.
- deomai (Greek #1189) – involves the idea of urgent need.
I’ve probably asked God for wisdom using each of the above kinds of asking. I’ve inquired of God, looking in my Bible for information, to increase my intelligence. I’ve asked God to please do me a favor and grant me wisdom. I’ve desperately searched for something hidden, and I’ve begged God with a sense of the greatest and most urgent need.
Probably the kind of asking of I’ve done the least of is demanding something due. How could I demand of God? What “due” does He owe me? This boggles my mind!
So I betcha can’t guess which word James uses…
Yup, “aiteō (Greek #154) – a demand of something due.”
So look at that verse again:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should [demand God to give him what is due him], who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (NIV).
The promise is here. God will give generously when I ask in this way. He will not find fault with me for asking!
Ahhhh… but I’m only quoting one verse. Verses never live in a vacuum; rather, they live in a “context,” and I need the entire context in order to understand what James is telling me.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:5-8, NIV).
So God generously gives wisdom. But when He gives me wisdom, is it easy to follow?
I think James is saying it is not easy. Let’s look at the word “believe” used by James, for he says I must “believe and not doubt.”
pistis (Greek #4102) – persuasion, reliance and conviction; to be convinced, by argument (true or false), until one relies fully upon.
So when God gives wisdom, which we are welcomed to demand of Him, He expects me to take it logically into my mind (“by argument, true or false”) and become so thoroughly convinced of its truth that I fully rely on it.
And if I don’t, I will be “double-minded,” unstable in everything I do.
Wisdom requires me to mull over what God says and to become convinced of its truth. It requires hard, long, intellectual work! It then requires faith, which obviously is action based upon something that I have become thoroughly convinced of.
- Intellectual hard work!
- Action based on belief!
Nope, not easy.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10, KJV).
“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach… It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life” (Deuteronomy 30:11-20, NIV).
Will you ask God to give you wisdom?