Today's Verse

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wisdom in Trials: James 1:5-8

Last week we looked at the reality of trials. All of us have trials in many different areas of our lives. We found in James 1:2 that we are to have an attitude of joy in our trials. In James 1:3 we see we need an attitude of understanding of what this trial is doing in our lives. In James 1:4 we see we need an attitude of submission, having patience to let God do His perfect work in our lives that we may be fully equipped in our Christian walk.

So, what happens when I am in the middle of a trial and I don't have a joyful, understanding or submissive attitude? If you're anything like me, there are times in trials when you don't understand what God is doing, you don't have joy like you're told you should, and you wonder if all this submitting is worth it. Good news! James goes on to tell us what we should do at this time. In James 1:5 he states, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God." We have a source of joy and understanding, helping us to bear patiently. That source is God! We don't have to trust in past experience. We don't have to trust in other people around us. We can go right to Almighty God.

In Proverbs 3:5-7 we see, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil." Our turning to God is not just one of many options to give us wisdom. Turning to God is the only way to find wisdom. That's because the wisdom that we seek is not an intellectual knowledge, it is an intimate knowledge of the mind of God. A good understanding of what God is doing in my life.

You know, God doesn't send us trials so He can see for Himself just how well we're doing spiritually. God already knows. He knows everything. God sends us trials so He can show us how we're doing spiritually. Praise the Lord that He does this! Otherwise we may be very content with a lip-service faith that really has no root in God. We may be like that plant in Luke 8 that falls on the rock. Jesus tells in the disciples in Luke 8:13, "They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away." These are those people with a lip-service faith, not truly rooted and grounded in Christ. When the trials come, there is no source to draw from and the faith is not sustained. We have a gracious God who is willing to reveal our faith to ourselves that we may see where we need to be strengthened. We may see our faith put to the test and find our source of strength.

Here in James 1:5 we see an amazing little picture of who God is. The verse continues, "that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not." What comfort! First, God gives to all men liberally -- simply, openly, sincerely. Our God is no respecter of persons. He doesn't favor one person over another and arbitraily decide to give John Smith more wisdom than Jane Doe. Neither does God sit up in Heaven and miserly hoard all of His wisdom, just grudgingly doling it out one measly drop at a time. We have a God who gives liberally -- abundantly! He is waiting and wanting to pour out His wisdom in your life. Not only does God give wisdom liberally, but also He doesn't "upbraid" you for asking. He doesn't ever look at the person requesting wisdom and say, "Now, couldn't you have figured that out on your own? Why do you keep coming to Me?" No, God wants you to come to Him. He wants you and I to seek His face and learn His purposes for our lives. The promise? "And it shall be given him" (James 1:5b). The promise is that when earnestly seek God's wisdom, we will get it. Hebrews 11:6 states, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Here we have yet another promise of God's rich rewards in our lives. To please Him, we seek Him. When we search for Him, He is our best reward.

Now we get to a little picture of ourselves. James 1:6 begins, "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." Wavering -- doubting, contending (arguing) When we go to God and ask Him for wisdom, we need to ask in faith completely believing that God will provide the wisdom He has promised. We also are completely trusting in His character and working in our lives. Many times when we go to God, we doubt the intentions and power of God. We might not say it quite like that, but when God begins to try us, our first response is often, "God? Do you really know what you're doing." Then we begin to argue. We want to present our case well. We want God to understand (just in case He somehow missed something) exactly what our perspective is on a situation and why our perspective is right. Sometimes we just get angry in a trial and lash out at God. "Why are you doing this to me!?"

You know how God sees this person who doubts Him or argues with Him? "For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed" (James 1:6b). God sees this person as a wave that is being tossed back and forth by the wind. This person has no direction. Ultimately He has no real faith. He is a person who wants something of God, but he wants it his way and in his time. He doesn't have faith and confidence to cling completely to God and look for what God is doing in his life. Ultimately he must know James 1:7: "For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." Remember Hebrews 11:6 from earlier? God is the "rewarder of them that diligently seek him." When we come to Him arguing and doubting, we are not diligently seeking Him. We have no true faith. God is not the rewarder of them that twist His arm the right way. God is pleased when we show faith and trust in Him with our humility and utter dependence on Him in the face of trials.

Ultimately, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:8). Double minded -- two souled. A person who has divided interests. He wants the comfort of believing in God, but he wants the comfort of this world as well. The faith he professes is not to draw him into a closer relationship with God but to bring him a comfortable life to live right now. He wavers between trust and comfort. He wants God's wisdom, but feels that wisdom must come from other sources too. When man's advice and God's wisdom conflict (as they always will), he cannot make up his mind which way is best. He may try both, but he is not stable. He is not rooted and grounded. This is either the unbeliever who really has no right as a child to ask and receive anything, or this is the weak Christian who is unable by faith to open his arms and receive all that God has promised him. God is amazingly ready to pour out His wisdom and blessings in your life. In Psalm 81:10, the Psalmist states as God saying, "open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." This is a beautiful statement of the generosity of God. This God is ready and willing for you to come seeking Him so that He may be your rewarder.

As you consider this passage in James, evaluate yourself in trials.
~What is your first reaction to a difficult situation?
~Is your faith in God such that you turn to Him first?
~If you are going through a trying time right now, have you taken the time to pray and ask for wisdom, completely trusting in what God is doing in your life?

I hope this study has been an encouragement to you. Once again, I would love to hear your comments.

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