James 1:5-8 ESV
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 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. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James wrote: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God…”
Along with the trials and testings we encounter in this life, we also come across a number of forks in the road. We may find ourselves asking questions like:
“What is God’s will for my life?”
“Which way should I go?”
“What should I do?”
I wonder if James had the words found in Proverbs chapter two in mind when he wrote this?
Proverbs 2:3-6 ESV
3 yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
I don’t think James is talking about a wishlist request here. You know what I’m talking about. I’m pretty sure he’s not suggesting that I ask to become the wisest person in the world so I can rule over it.
Remember, James is writing this book to Christians, and in a very practical sense, he reminds us how to live. His book has been called the Proverbs of the New Testament.
James writes about perseverance, true faith, controlling one’s tongue, having patience and… yes, submitting to God’s will. Could the wisdom be directly connected to seeking God’s will?
James says that we can ask for wisdom and we’ll receive it, but he is obviously talking about the wisdom for the discernment of God’s will.
If we don’t seek God’s perfect wisdom to guide us throughout life’s choices, we will be traveling on unstable ground. Isn’t this the context of the passage?
The world offers so many directions. Most of the time, there isn’t just a fork in the road, there is a multi-lane highway. We face so many beliefs systems and worldly solutions it can get a bit mind boggling. Life presents so many choices it is overwhelming. The problem is, there is not much wisdom found in the worlds answers.
Without God’s wisdom, James says we will be driven and tossed about like a wave. Just like the wind pushes things around with ease, we too will be blown here and there without regard for what is right.
In other words, we will be wishy-washy. When we are weak and indecisive, we can be easily swayed by every idea that sounds good and even some that don’t.
There is an undeniable promise found in this passage, but there is a hint of the idea that prompts us to pray with God’s will in mind, too. Notice there is also a more obvious “but” in this promise to grant wisdom.
James says, “But let him ask in faith…”
James is not really switching topics here. We must fully trust in the Lord. We must trust in His wisdom. We must trust that He will guide us in the way He would have us go. It does no good to ask for God’s help if you don’t trust in that help and actually use it.
We (people in general) tend to seek out advice when facing an important decision, but we often already know the direction we want to go. Wise people may suggest other options. God may be trying to direct our paths, but in the end, we sometimes do what we want to do. The sad thing is, our way does not usually agree with God’s way.
A wise man not only seeks the right direction when facing that fork in the road, he also takes the wise advice and applies it appropriately.
James reminds us to pray for wisdom and understanding – God’s understanding. We usually can’t see much past the fork, but God can see all the way to the end of the road.
I love how James says so plainly that we shouldn’t ask for this wisdom with the idea or mindset that we really won’t receive an answer from the Lord. We ask, but we typically expect the worst. We don’t think our prayers will be answered before we even kneel down and utter the words.
I’m reminded of the child who went to his parents with a request. “I know you’ll probably say no, but can I…” Do you remember going to your parents with that question? I think we all have at one time or another. Are we still going to our Heavenly Father with this attitude?
God wants us to make the right decisions. God wants us to succeed. According to James, we should ask God for that wisdom in true faith (without doubting) and He will grant the request. As a matter of fact, God won’t even remind us of our past bad decisions in the process.
A fork in the road is no problem for God.