Scripture: 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. James 1:5-6 ESV
Observation: Possibly one of the earliest epistle writings (A.D. 40–50), the fourth-century patriarchs who canonized the New Testament held that the author is Jesus’ brother, James (Gal. 1:19). Addressing his letter to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion (implying his audience comprised converted Jews living abroad in the Greco-Roman world), James sought to ensure the healthy growth of this vulnerable, fledgling church in a hostile environment. Thus, he begins by outlining true faith (chapters 1-2) and then addresses elements of godly living in greater detail:
- Controlling our tongues and exhibiting good fruits (chapter 3)
- Resisting worldliness (chapter 4) and self-indulgence (chapter 5)
- Patiently enduring suffering while availing prayer (chapter 5)
Understanding that godly wisdom is foundational to staying on track in our faith, James wastes no time urging the church to confidently seek the Lord for this priceless gift (above verses).
Takeaway: James likely based his appeal on the biblical story of Solomon’s interaction with Yahweh at Gibeon (1 Kings 5-14), where, in a dream, the Lord spoke to Solomon and asked him what gift he desired as Israel’s newly anointed king. Solomon demonstrated humility and faith in the Lord by respectfully asking for wisdom (an “understanding mind”) to lead God’s people. Following Solomon’s godly example, James challenges the church to ask for wisdom, believing that our unchanging God who gives good gifts, as evidenced by sending us his Son, desires to grant us the “word of truth” so that we can be firstfruits of Christ (1:17-18).
So how do we seek his wisdom in faith without doubting? It’s twofold: trust in God’s goodness while bearing the right motive. If we believe that our heavenly Father desires what’s best for us (even when encountering trials and suffering), then he will answer our prayer if we seek his wisdom in faith to discern his purpose and direction. And his “Wisdom,” our Lord and Savior, will be with us always (Matthew 28:20) to see us through life’s ups and downs.
Prayer: We thank you, “Father of lights,” for your good and perfect “Gift” from above. Would you please instill in us confidence in you, our unchanging and good Father, that we might seek your godly wisdom in faith to discern your purpose and direction through our sin-marred world, that we might bear the fruit of Christ to those seeking him? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling