James 1:5 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. (NKJV)
I think one of the most wonderful promises of Scripture is James 1:5. Here is the Creator of the Universe saying “hey, if you’ll ask Me for wisdom, I’ll give you more than you need”.
Of course, if wisdom is not something we desire, and evidently it’s not high on the wish list nowadays, then we won’t be asking for it very often. In a Christian world that is caught up with asking God for material abundance and personal success, asking for wisdom seems almost quaint by comparison.
The Bible tells us God presented the proverbial “genie in a bottle” scenario to Solomon:
1 Kings 3:5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” (NKJV)
Instead of riches, power, fame, pleasure or long life, Solomon asked for wisdom, a foreshadowing of the promise God makes in James that if we simply ask (in faith, more on that later), God will generously give us all the wisdom we will ever need or use.
Obviously, if God gives wisdom so generously, He must have a very high opinion of its value, and must be very pleased with us when we ask for it.
1 Kings 3:10-12 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. (NKJV)
God told Solomon He was very pleased and not only would give him wisdom, but would grant him all the other “desires” too. In general, this same blessing happens to us when we ask for wisdom because in principle, those who exercise their Godly wisdom tend to make smart decisions, treat people well and have great integrity. Again, in general, this leads to success in life and the blessings of prosperity, long life and abundance often follow the Godly wise man (not always; but in principle, generally true.)
So why is it that people don’t ask God for wisdom more often? Why is it that our prayers are filled with requests for favor, blessing, prosperity, success and personal advancement… but not for wisdom? (could it be that Godly wisdom might lead us away from craving all those other things?) It is partly because of the materialistic nature of much of today’s Bible teaching. That’s another message for another day. I want to concentrate on what wisdom is, how we get it, what conditions are involved and what benefit it has.
What Is Wisdom
There are actually many meanings given different contexts but the one we are most concerned with here is the idea of “living a God-pleasing life”. Wisdom allows us to take what we know and apply it to what we should do, how we should choose, what we should think.
Wisdom could be summarily defined as “the application of knowledge to life”. Of course this immediately shines light on an important point: having the right knowledge, is key to having the right wisdom. For a Christian, we can further refine our definition as: “the application of Godly knowledge to everyday life“. In light of this, James 1:5 becomes more clear. God is not promising some instant infusion of intellect or proverbial cleverness. God is promising that He will give us the power and ability to rightly discern and apply the Godly knowledge we have attained, if we will simply ask Him.
A Christian should be learning more about God every day. A primary source of that of course is to read God’s Word, listen to Bible teaching and study good solid Christian material. That’s how we get sound Bible knowledge but how does that knowledge translate to practical daily life? Wisdom.
Wisdom is the translation of head knowledge to heart action.
How Do We Get It
Here’s where we get a little more “deep” in our discussion. Most of the time we mistake experience and knowledge for “wisdom”. I believe they are completely separate things. It is not uncommon to find the smartest, most knowledgeable and experienced people on the planet who are fools lost in “self”. Look no farther than many science rooms, news sources, government and health organizations. This foolishness occurs anytime you take experience and knowledge and try to apply it using HUMAN “wisdom” rather than God’s.
This is what sets Christians apart. Our experience and knowledge is empowered and directed by the Creator of humans, not humans themselves. God transcends all ignorance, selfishness, pride and personal agenda. We only get TRUE wisdom from one source: God. He is the only original source of real wisdom. All others are pretenders, deceivers, charltans and wannabees.
How do we get wisdom from God? Hang on to your hats, this is a tough one…. ask. That’s it, ask. It’s like having the doors of Fort Knox open if we will simply request, “open those doors please”. But there is one little catch….
What Are the Conditions
You have to ask in faith, without doubt. Why? Because it is a grand insult to God to ask Him to do something He promised He will do, and then actually doubt He can or will do it.
A person who asks God for something God has already said “ask Me for it”, then doubts that God can give it, is like a “double minded” man, unstable about everything. It would be like me looking at the blue sky and doubting it was blue. “Unstable” means someone that cannot be trusted, who is erractic and undependable; someone who will not stay the course or complete the mission.
It would be like the employer who tells an employee, “go down to Office Depot and pick up some office supplies. I’ll call in my approval on my store account with them before you get there. Just go there and get it.” An hour later he finds the employee at his desk. “Where’s the office supplies I told you to get?” the employer asks. “I wasn’t sure you would call ahead, so I didn’t go” the employee replies. Do you think that employer can trust that employee with any other responsibility or portion of the business? No! The employee is double minded and unstable because of his doubt.
God is not going to “waste” His wisdom on doubters because they cannot be trusted to carry out what the wisdom will call for anyway. When you ask God for wisdom, ask in faith, without doubting, that God will give you a generous portion every time you ask. By the way, He will. Give it a try, I dare you.
What Are the Benefits
What is so great about this “wisdom” stuff anyway? Wisdom allows us to take knowledge and experience and put it to profitable use helping ourselves, helping others and doing God’s will. Again, we’ve all known plenty of “smart” and “experienced” people whose lives are a wreck, relationships are in the dumps and they seem foolish about the really important issues of life. That is because only God can take our knowledge and convert it to profitable and effective wisdom.
Here’s a few things the Bible says about wisdom:
- Wisdom is knowing the mystery of God’s will – Ephesians 1:8-9 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, (NKJV)
- Wisdom leads into a worth Christian walk – Colossians 1:9-10 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (NKJV)
- Wisdom helps us to lead a Godly life – James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (NKJV)
- God’s wisdom allows us to understand spiritual things – 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (NKJV)
- Wisdom allows us to “convert” our knowledge of Christ into worship and ministry – Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (NKJV)
Knowing all that, how valuable do you think wisdom is now? Ask God for wisdom. Ask in faith, not doubting. God will give it to you generously just as He promised.
Lord God, Help us to ask You for wisdom. Help us to ask in faith believing that You will give it generously and without fail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: All the Bible knowledge and experience in the world won’t be a blessing to you or others if you do not ask God for the wisdom to know how to apply it. Ask God for wisdom. Ask in faith, not doubting. God will give it to you generously just as He promised.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?