I Lack Wisdom
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. – James 1:5 (NASB)
“I lack wisdom.” And I do, it’s true.
That’s quite a statement, isn’t it? In a world of self-marketing and promotion, it may be one of the most difficult things for a person to actually believe. It’s not that difficult to say to another, usually, but to actually believe it, that can be another thing entirely. After all, there’s not a one of us who has completely been emptied of pride.
I love how James doesn’t step on any toes here. He could’ve said, “Look, you knuckleheads, we’re all stupid, we all lack wisdom, and you’re not going to find it by reading the latest gnostic best-seller.” Now, I might have said that if I were in the mood, but that probably would not have gone over so well, not even for James. No, he had something I also lack at times. Tact (please, no comment).
So we all lack wisdom, and wisdom both belongs to and comes from God our Father. So, clearly, aside from our need for wisdom, we have a need to contemplate this passage.
I. We have a definite need – “If any of you lacks wisdom…”
The need here is a lack of wisdom.
James says nothing about money, health, circumstances, better grades or a different boyfriend or girlfriend, whatever. It’s about wisdom, nothing else, and too many preachers take great liberty with this passage and expand the need to just about anything you can think of. “Just ask God, He promised…” Well, no He didn’t. You tell people that, then they ask God for specific things, fully expecting to get it, and God may say ‘No, it’s not in your best interest.’ Well how wise do you look now?
II. We have a prescribed method – “Let him ask…”
Prayer time – that’s the method, that’s the way we are told to get wisdom. In fact, it is the only method approved by God:
Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and by petition with thanksgivings, let your requests be made known to God. – Phil 4:6; cf. John 14:13).
You can try another way, but it won’t work. You may gain knowledge using your own methods, but that’s not wisdom from God. There’s a good reason why young people today know what to do or not to do, but they don’t know why. It’s because the Bible deals in principles, not specifics on how to dump your last date. We should remember that we don’t deserve wisdom. When you pray, don’t think you do. This is not mano y mano, this is worm to Creator, subject to Ruler, inferior clod to Superior Giver-of-Life. The method, prayer, must be submissive.
III. We have the Source – “Of God..”
It’s not Google. It’s not the university library. It’s God. The library and Google will fail you. God won’t (Phil 4:19).
IV. We have a measure of expectation – “Who gives to all generously and without reproach…”
Bountifully. Liberally. Openly. You’re not asking God for His last nickle, you’re asking Him for something He never runs out of, and you can’t get enough of. This might be a good time to mention that the reason you’re asking for wisdom is important. Listen, if you ask God for wisdom so you can look smarter next Wednesday night or to show up so-an-so in your next theological debate, you probably won’t receive that wisdom from God. Why? You asked wrongly, with wrong motives. See James 4:3.
Without reproach means you will not, in any way, shape or form be chided for your indolence. Not taunted, not run up a flag pole for your gall, nothing like that. You’ve been invited to partake of the wisdom of God, from God, for His glory and your betterment. Wonderful stuff.
V. We have the promise – “It will be given to him.”
He will give it. That’s a promise from God. It’s a certainty. That’s an assurance containing no doubt whatsoever. Let the creek rise, wisdom for living to the glory of God is coming, if you ask with the right motive, the glory of God.