Godly Wisdom – James Lesson 4

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” James 1:5-6

The theme of James is practical Christianity. Chapter one is a concise example of just how practical this little epistle really is. James wastes little time introducing himself or telling the reader the circumstances of his writing. He immediately jumps into the urgent cause for his writing. He exhibits through various topics how a believer should react to circumstances in very practical, godly ways. The entire epistle is of this same tone and nature.

In the first chapter of only 27 verses, James introduces no fewer than six different topics. And in each of these topics, the apostle demonstrates the proper attitude that people of faith should possess. The topics covered are:

      • Patience – vs. 1-4
      • Wisdom – vs. 5-8
      • Wealth – vs. 9-11
      • Temptation – vs. 12-15
      • God’s gifts – vs. 16-21
      • God’s Word – vs. 22-27

The attitudes and responses James calls for in each of these topics exhibits a practical demonstration of the Christian faith. The first issue that is covered in the theme of practical Christianity is that of patience. If there were ever a quality that believers must master and manifest quickly or risk the forfeit of their reward, it is certainly the quality of patience. It is quite fitting that patience is the first topic that the book of the Bible dedicated to practical religion addresses.

The next two topics addressed by James are wisdom and wealth. A believer’s attitude toward these two things is immensely important. A believer’s attitude toward wisdom and wealth will greatly influence the direction and development of his or her spiritual life. Let’s take these two topics in order.

Godly Wisdom

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” James 1:5-6

The first practical advice James gives us about wisdom is to go to the true source. Men can give you their opinion or even a piece of their mind, but godly wisdom comes from above. James will later in chapter three contrast earthly wisdom with godly wisdom. The true source of godly wisdom is the Lord God.

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” James 3:13-17

The first step in achieving godly wisdom is realizing your need. The next step is going to the source. Seeking wisdom from men is asking for human wisdom. The good Lord knows there is enough human wisdom around to sink any ship on the seven seas. Human wisdom bankrupted Behr and Sterns, AIG, and Washington Mutual. Human wisdom is sometimes not worth the old newspaper it is wrapped in! I am not saying that asking questions of godly people is wrong, yet we must understand that if godly wisdom only comes from God, we should be careful who we seek counsel from.

God’s wisdom is available to all who seek it. But in seeking is an implied admission of need. Some folks are already just too smart for God to help. But those who humbly seek godly wisdom will find it. There is a book in the Bible about godly wisdom. It is written by a king to convey godly wisdom to a prince. The Book of Proverbs personifies wisdom as a beautiful woman.

“Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” Prov 1:20-23

Godly wisdom is all around you uttering her voice and crying after the simpletons everywhere. Yet they will not hear. How long will the simpletons love simplicity, how long will scorners go on scorning, and fools continue to hate true knowledge?

What are the qualifications for receiving godly wisdom?

      • One must realize the need.
      • One must ask of God – “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God…” (vs. 5
      • One must strive for maturity – “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” (Isa 28:9).
      • One must accept God’s reproof and renounce foolishness – “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?  … Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you” (Prov 1:22-23).
      • One must seek godly wisdom in faith, and applying faithfulness – “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6).

These requirements should not discourage any sincere seeker. And yet, as always, there will be some who feel that God is discriminating against them because they were not “gifted” with godly wisdom from birth! We see right here in James that God is not a snob, nor does He discriminate without cause. He “giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not…” (James 1:5).

Two of the requirements for receiving godly wisdom that are mentioned by James are faith and faithfulness. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6). Do you think our good old practical James can mention faith without also speaking about what faith produces? “Nothing wavering” is a negative expression that describes how faith does not behave. “With never a doubt” is how James Moffatt renders the expression. “Without secret doubts” is how J.B. Phillips translates the phrase.

The faithless believer is driven by circumstances and has a hard time grasping the difference between cause and effect.

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” James 1:6

Those who never connect the dots between belief and action, between faith and faithfulness, are driven by circumstances around them and never understand why. Doubt is a vacillation or fluctuation of faith. I understand “nothing wavering” to mean without fluctuating between faith and doubt. “Intermittent” faith will not get the job done. It is like having a short in your electrical power supply. How much can you get accomplished if your power source is herky-jerky?

Perhaps you have seen someone fluctuate between faith and doubt. They are only able to live for God for about 2, maybe 3 months in a row before they throw out. And off they go again … A new wave has caught hold of them and some new problem or issue that has come up is now carrying them about.

The final requirement for receiving wisdom from God without faith wavering is because His wisdom is not bestowed upon those who are uncommitted or unstable. God’s wisdom requires time to flow. Those unwilling to allow time to receive this good gift shall not have it. Somehow, we must draw the line and stand by faith. This is where you will stand and allow God to work out the issues that are pulling and pushing at your life. It requires steadfast faith to receive God’s wisdom and allow Him to bring about change. This type of faith when it is in action is called faithfulness. Without actions behind it, faith cannot become “full” or complete, and one is not “faithful.” Without this level of commitment and a willingness to demonstrate faith, one is pulled and pushed about by the waves of life.

“For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8

Even “good people” who are unwilling to make a commitment to allow God to work in their lives are subject to all sorts of circumstances that control them.

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8

Double-minded thinking gives way to a divided heart and the two together cause an uneven walk.

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” Eph 4:14

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *