Lacking in Wisdom?
James 1:5-8 ESV
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 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. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Wisdom is defined as good sense, good judgment, discernment, insight, perception, reason, prudence, and understanding. To me it is doing the right that you know to do, i.e., it is applied (not head) knowledge. And the wisdom from above is “first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (Jas 3:17).
So, if we are lacking in wisdom, we are lacking in good judgment or insight or understanding, or we need direction and guidance in a particular area. We have a dilemma, and we don’t know which way to turn, and so we need godly counsel from God to know what to do next, and to know what to say or how to pray in this particular circumstance.
But if we are going to ask God for wisdom, we need to be prepared to do what he shows us to do or to say. We shouldn’t ask God for wisdom and then wait to hear what he has to say first before we decide if we are going to do it or not. Now, we need to make sure what we are hearing is from God. And if the wisdom comes from his word, then we need to do what it says.
For, if we doubt that God is going to give us the correct wisdom, or if we question his counsel to us, or if we wait for it before we decide if we are going to obey it (apply it), then that is doubting. It is like wanting righteousness but not at the same time. It is like believing in God but not at the same time, which the Bible calls unbelief.
Doubting is Double-Minded
And then let me say this here, too. The Bible is filled with all kinds of words of wisdom for us to follow. If it is from the Old Covenant but it is repeated for us under the New Covenant, then it still applies to our lives. So, we already have much wisdom spelled out for us. So, if we are asking God for wisdom but the Bible already tells us what to do, then I think that is doubting, too, for it is asking hoping for a different answer.
Anyway, if we ask God for wisdom, but we don’t know if we are going to accept it or not until we hear what it is, or if we ask God for wisdom but we already know what to do, because the Bible already tells us what to do, and so we are asking hoping we’ll get a different answer that we like better, then that is not asking with faith, but that is doubting God and his counsel.
And the Scriptures have a name for that. It is called “double-minded,” which has to do with trying to go two different (opposite) directions at the same time. It literally means to be of “two souls” or of “two selves,” kind of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is the same person but with two different natures. He (or she) is trying to hold on to the old sin nature but be in relationship with Jesus Christ, too, and they don’t mix.
I have heard people like this say that they pray about something, but they already know the answer, but they don’t want to do what they know to do, and so they will say that God isn’t answering them. Well, at this point, God probably isn’t answering them because they aren’t listening, because they are double-minded, but that is just an excuse to not do what is right.
Anyway, what this says here is if we are double-minded that we should not expect that we will receive anything from the Lord. If we want him to answer our prayers, we have to pray in faith, but it isn’t just that, but we can’t be claiming to believe one thing while we are living the opposite. For that is being double-minded, too. For, if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars who don’t live by the truth (1 Jn 1:5-9).
The Implanted Word
James 1:19-21 ESV
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
First of all, we need to be quick to hear the Lord, and slow to speak to him. If we do all the talking and we don’t listen to what he has to tell us, then there is no relationship there. Also, in our talking with him in prayer, it shouldn’t be all supplication, either. It can’t just be a list of things that we want which we hope he will supply. That is a one-sided relationship.
We should be seeking out his will and purpose for our lives. We should be desiring him and to hear his voice speak truth to our hearts. And we should be developing an intimate relationship with him like newlyweds getting to know each other, for he is our husband, and we, the body of Christ, are his bride. So, our relationship with him is also to be like a marriage.
Then, we should practice good listening skills with other humans, too, and be slow to speak and quick to listen and slow to anger. Now, not all anger is wrong. God gets angry. So, we should love the things he loves, and hate the things he hates, and thus have righteous indignation over the things he has righteous indignation over, too.
For, we read in Ephesians 4 to be angry and sin not, so not all anger is sinful. It has to do with what is in our hearts, and what kind of anger it is, and it has to do with how we handle that anger, too, so that we are angry, but we don’t sin, but that we use that anger as motivation to do and to say the right things in order to try to resolve a difficult situation.
The Righteousness of God
Since, as followers of Jesus, we want to produce the righteousness of God, the fruit of our walks of faith in Jesus Christ, we must therefore put away all wickedness and all filthiness (immorality, impurity) from us. We must forsake our sins and turn to the Lord to follow him in obedience. And the implanted word is the word of God living within us, so we must receive it.
If we read both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible (Genesis-Revelation), we will find a common message throughout. What the prophets taught in the Old Testament Jesus also taught as did his New Testament apostles. And the message is fairly simple, and concise, and can be summarized in a sentence or two.
What God demanded of his people then is the same thing he demands of us now, that we should leave our lives of sin behind us, be changed in heart and mind of God, and now walk (in conduct) according to the Spirit, in obedience to our Lord, and in righteousness and holiness to the glory and praise of God, and only by his grace and in his power and strength.
The implanted word is able to save our souls only if we receive it, embrace it, and do what it says. For, if we live according to the flesh, doing what our flesh desires, we will die in our sins. But if we live according to the Spirit, in walks of obedience, holiness, and righteousness, then we have eternal life with God. So, please know this, and please take it to heart.
Seek the Lord
An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55
“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.
“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”