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)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
Recently I was in a meeting and two of my Christian brothers related a series of events that culminated in one of the wives telling them “you guys need to get away, and get before God in prayer and He will tell you what to do.” On a side note, isn’t that just like us, fellas? Try everything we can in our own power, our own intellect and our own wisdom… then finally give God a shot after we’ve hit a brick wall?
That’s not the point of this messaage though. The point is that God will give us wisdom if we just ask. He tells us that in James 1:5 in no uncertain terms, plain and clear. Those two Christian brothers went on to say that God gave them clear direction and wisdom about the situation at hand, and there was now perfect peace about the decisions that needed to be made. After hearing them speak of how God gave them the wisdom they prayed for, I just couldn’t get James 1:5 off my mind.
My first thought was “why is a story like this such a surprise exception, rather than the rule of the day?” Don’t get me wrong… I’m not talking about those guys. They may very well pray every day and ask God for wisdom, I don’t know. My thoughts were an indictment on my own neglect, not theirs.
So I’m wondering to myself, “if God promises to give us wisdom when we ask, why don’t I have a story every single day to tell about how I prayed and God gave me wisdom?” The simple answer is: because I don’t ask. That of course led me to start wondering “why?” Why don’t we pray and ask God for wisdom every day, many times a day? He promises to give it, and heaven knows based on the multitude of mistakes and failures in our lives, we could use more wisdom. So why don’t we ask more? Why don’t I ask more? Here’s some reasons that came to mind:
- I trust in my own wisdom – of course this is a huge mistake. Who can argue with Scripture:
1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; (NKJV)
- I have enough wisdom already – if I’m not asking God daily for wisdom, I’m in essence saying that I don’t lack in wisdom, that I have plenty already. What does the verse say? “If any of you lacks wisdom…” I cannot recall a day that does not apply to me. You? How much wisdom do we miss out on simply because we don’t ask? How much less “lacking” would we be if we only took God up on His promise and constantly asked Him for more wisdom?
- I don’t believe God will give it – maybe we don’t believe God’s promise. Or maybe we aren’t asking in faith:
James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (NKJV)
There is a condition on God’s promise. We have to ask without doubting which only makes sense. How insulting is it to God to ask Him to give you something that He has promised to give all while thinking “He can’t, or won’t”? I’m always amazed at the simple requirements God has for such priceless blessings: salvation is a free gift from God if we only respond God’s way; wisdom is a free gift from God if only we ask His way. We don’t have to pay for it, work for it, earn it or beg…. we just have to accept God’s free gifts on His terms which are not burdensome (Matt 11.30).
- I want to take credit for what I do – we all love recognition…. some of us more than others (regrettably). So I wondered how often I have failed to ask God for wisdom or direction because then I wouldn’t be able to say “look what I did!”. This verse doesn’t exactly apply, but the general principle does:
Matthew 6:1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. (NKJV)
- I’ll try everything else first – these seems to be generally more true of men than women. I don’t know if it’s born of pride, arrogance, stupidity or misguided motives – or all of the above – but it seems that it is common to plow headlong into something and only after we’ve reached our wits end and messed everything up do we finally say, “hey, I’ll ask God and see what He says”.
- I assume I know what God will say – I think as we learn the Bible, the danger is to assume we already know what God will say and so we don’t have to ask. Obviously, that is perfectly true in some cases. I’m not going to pray and ask God for wisdom about whether or not I should steal or commit adultery. However, that doesn’t mean that I automatically know God’s will about taking a new job that pays more, or signing up for another ministry at church. In the absence of genuinely clear and simple Scripture concerning your specific need for wisdom, never assume you know what God will say because that is an assumption that you are as wise as God.
- I don’t value God’s wisdom – when we don’t ask God for wisdom, it is tantamount to saying “I don’t think God’s wisdom is all the worth having” or “I place more value and confidence in my own wisdom than I do God’s”. Okay, we don’t think that out loud, but is it not clearly implied? The only alternative is that we KNOW God’s wisdom is more valuable than our own, and we choose our own anyway. That’s makes us stupid. Not exactly a great selection of options.
- I’m out of fellowship with God – it could be that we don’t ask God because we feel guilty, ashamed or embarrassed about the state of our fellowship with him. If you would like to ask God for wisdom, but feel like you are so separated from Him that you can’t, you are only one “morning of new mercy” away from restoring your relationship with Him.
Lamentations 3:22-23 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (NKJV)
- I just don’t care or I’m too lazy – self explanatory and not very flattering.
I don’t ask God for wisdom every day. That’s either stupid or wrong – or both. I need to examine myself and find out the reason why, then do something about it. How about you?
Lord, Help us to believe Your promises. Help us in our unbelief and our unfaithfulness. Thank You that You generously give wisdom to any of Your children who ask.. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: God promises wisdom to those who lack it. I don’t know about you, but I fall into that category. To fail to take God up on that generous promise is stupid, regretful and an insult to God.
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?