Thursday, April 19, 2007

Have You Asked God for Wisdom?

What provision does God make for us when we are going through trials? He grants wisdom to those who ask. Listen to what James says in 1:5, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Why do we need wisdom when going through a trial? We need it in order to evaluate trials with a joyous attitude (v.2); to understand the purpose of trials (“the testing of your faith” vv.2-3); and to submit to what God is producing from the trial (“endurance...perfect and complete, lacking nothing” v.4). But it all begins with the request for wisdom. Again, James says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.” James begins here with the petition for wisdom. He says, “Let him ask.” The word “ask” (aiteito) means, “to ask, request.” It has the idea of asking for “something to be given rather than something to be done.” It’s used in the present tense to indicate that we are to keep asking. It is also an imperative which means it’s a command. We are commanded to ask God for the wisdom we need when going through trials. James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.”

Notice in verse 5 the source. He says, “Let him ask of God.” “The supernatural wisdom needed to understand the trials of life is not available in the world around us. If you need wisdom, you must acquire it from God” (MacArthur). God is the source for wisdom. James says in 1:17, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” All good gifts come from God, so does wisdom. In Proverbs 2:1-6, Solomon gives some great advice to his son when he says, “My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, 2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity." We must recognize Him as the source and ask for wisdom like Solomon did (1 Kings 3:1-15). In 1 Kings 4:29 it tells us that “God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore” because he ask for it.

Notice also the character of God in our petition. He is the “God who gives.” The Greek puts it so that giving is emphasized as an attribute of God. The verse literally reads, “Ask of the giving God,” or “God the giver” (Vincent). John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave...” Paul said to the Athenians in Acts 17:24-26 that “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.” Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 that God the Father “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” He gives His wisdom to all who ask: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all.” He gives “liberally.” This is the Greek word haplos which has two meanings. First, it is the “simple or single” motive of God’s giving; to further the welfare of His children; second, God’s manner of giving is “freely, without restraint, generously, liberally.” Both are true about God’s giving of wisdom. “He gives to all with singleness of purpose and with a wealth of liberality” (Hiebert). He also gives “without reproach.” He does not scold us for asking. The idea here is that “God permanently abstains from such a practice” (Hiebert). A good example of this is seen in the parable of the prodical son in Luke 15:11-22.

There is a promise attached to those who ask God for wisdom. James says, “And it shall be given to him.” “The future indicative places God on record that He will respond favorably when we turn to Him in our need” (Hiebert). If a person who lacks wisdom will ask God for the wisdom needed, it will be given to him. That is coming from a God who cannot lie.

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