Book of James Series
#2 Do You Need More Wisdom?
By Pastor Jim May
Could you use a little more wisdom? In all of the decisions that you have had to make in life, how much better would your life be today if you had the wisdom to do the right thing at the right time, to avoid many of the mistakes that you have made, and to have all of those decisions made according to the will of God for your life?
Wisdom is something that we all need more of, and yet every day it seems that wisdom is getting to be a very rare commodity.
Wisdom is often defined as not only having the knowledge needed to make a right choice in any given moment, but the understanding or ability to use that knowledge to the best advantage under every circumstance.
The Bottom Line is that all of us need wisdom and not one of us ever has enough.
Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Automotive Industries asked an electrical genius by the name of Charlie Steinmetz to build the generators for his factory. One day the generators ground to a halt, and the repairmen couldn’t find the problem. Ford called Steinmetz, who tinkered with the machines for a few hours and then threw the switch. The generators whirred to life--but Ford got a bill for $10,000 from Steinmetz. He was flabbergasted at the high cost of the bill, so he asked Steinmetz why it cost so much for only a few hours of work.
Steinmetz said, “Well I only charged $10 for the time that I tinkered on the generators, but the $9,990 is for knowing where to tinker. Henry Ford paid the bill.
Here were two men who had wisdom. Ford had the wisdom to know that he didn’t know it all and the wisdom to find someone who had the knowledge he needed. Then he had the wisdom to pay for that knowledge rather than try to figure it out the hard way. Steinmetz also had wisdom. He had the wisdom to know what to do, how to do it and then how to go about convincing Henry Ford to pay for what he knew.
We all lack wisdom. We all need wisdom. The question is: how do we get wisdom? Where does wisdom come from?
Most of us learn those lessons that teach us wisdom through the school of life. We tend to learn only by wading off into uncharted waters and making many mistakes that are costly. When something costs you, you will learn from it, unless you are insane. I’ve met a lot of insane people in my life. Sometimes I almost qualify to be one of them. (Some people say that I’m well qualified.)
Insanity can be defined as continuing to do the same stupid things over and again and expecting different results. Have you ever repeated the same mistake more than once? Maybe insanity runs in your family too?!
The wise man understands the message when he hears someone say, “A wise man learns by the experience of others. An ordinary man learns by his own experience. A fool learns by nobody’s experience.”
I would hope that most of us will learn from watching others make mistakes so that we won’t do the same thing, but I fear that the vast majority will fall into the “ordinary” category because we just don’t pay attention to what’s going on around us that much. I certainly hope that none of us fall into the category of a “fool”, though I sometimes wonder if some haven’t already.
Let’s use the wisdom that we have and see if God’s Word has anything to say about getting wisdom, after all God is the ultimate source for all wisdom. It’s always best to look at the source.
Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 2:6, "For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding."
222 times in the Word of God we hear about wisdom. So if we want to know about it and learn it then we must understand that God is the Number One source for all wisdom; and that’s what we see when we read in the opening passages in the Book of James.
James 1:5-8, "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. 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."
Now, before we go any further, let also say that there are two types of wisdom; the wisdom of man and the wisdom of God. Quite often they are one and the same, but sometimes the wisdom of man is little more than foolishness in the eyes of God.
1 Corinthians 1:20, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?"
1 Corinthians 3:19, "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness."
Mankind can seem so wise in his own conceit, but his wisdom is based only on what he can logically figure out. Man’s logic is often flawed because his intelligence is limited and he often bases his wisdom on wrong suppositions. God’s wisdom is not based logic alone, but upon supernatural intelligence, the power to create and the eternal. Our all-knowing; all-seeing; all-powerful and eternal God has insight that man could never understand nor attain.
Knowing all of this, James says that we need to ask God for wisdom. Does God want you to be wise? Of course he does. If you have children you want them to be wise in the choices they make. God wants the same thing for His children. Wise choices make for a much better life and fewer troubles.
James says that God loves to give us good things, and that God loves to give us good things abundantly. He isn’t short on wisdom, and God never puts a limit on what you can have if you live in obedience to His Word.
In fact, we will look it more in detail later on, but in James 1:17 he says that, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
I get a picture here of a son going to his father to ask for some money. His father has money, and plenty to spare, but when he reaches out his hand to give some to his son, the son has to pry open the fingers of his father’s hand one by one, then wrestle to pull a few dollars free, and often leaves with only a small portion of what he needs.
But that is not the way that God gives to His children. God’s hand is filled with every good thing that we need, including wisdom. It is stacked on his hand, but his hand is not in a fist, holding it tightly. No, God’s hand is open wide so that we may take whatever we need, as much as we need, as often as we need it, and His provisions of His hand never lessen, no matter how often we go for more. The bank of Heaven will never be bankrupt, after all our God has only to speak whatever we need into existence and it’s there when we need it.
In this world, a father may give to his son, but sometimes he does so grudgingly, for he knows that what he gives away may not be replaceable. But God’s resources are limitless. Therefore He gives it away liberally, with no grudge and without hesitation to His children who will take it by faith.
Most of us have experience what happens when we go to parents too many times for help. Sooner or later we start hearing the lectures. “If I’m going to supply your need, then I also am going to give you my opinion on what you are doing and how to do things differently.” I know that I’ve done it to my kids. I also knew better than to go to my own parents too many times because surely the lectures would come. I’d rather do without than hear the lectures. Those lectures, instruction and attempts to correct my actions may have been good. They might have carried a lot of wisdom. But I just didn’t want to hear it!
God doesn’t do things that way. James says that God “upbraideth not”! He doesn’t get on your case for asking for wisdom. He knows you are ignorant. He knows that you haven’t matured enough yet. So God just opens his hand and allows you to take whatever wisdom you need, and then helps you to absorb it and use it through the circumstances of your life.
If you ask God for wisdom, He is happy to give it to you. God will enlighten your mind and help you to think clearly. He will use His Word to illuminate your understanding, and then the Holy Spirit will lead you in how to use the wisdom that God has given to you in your daily walk with God.
Do you believe that God will give you wisdom if you ask for it? Do you believe that God will show you the right path, teach you the right steps to take and help you learn wisdom?
The faith that we put in God’s promise will be the determining factor on how much wisdom we actually learn and use!
James says that we will get wisdom but only if we ask in absolute faith that God will answer our prayer.
We not only have to believe that God is real and that He is truly God, but we must have faith in the promises he has made; faith in his power and willingness to fulfill those promises in our lives; and faith to believe that whatever we ask according to the will of God shall be given to us.
But it’s more than just believing; it’s believing without wavering from that belief. We must settle the fact before asking that whatever we are asking for is of God’s will, then there will be no doubt that we can receive it. If what you are asking for is in God’s will for your life, then you already know that the answer will be “Yes”. We must be fully persuaded that in God’s time and in His way, whatever we ask for will come, then we must rest in that assurance.
But if we ask without that kind of faith, then we will easily be persuaded that it might not happen. Satan is quick to jump in and put doubt in your heart and mind. The world around you quickly persuades you that the answer to your prayer is impossible and could not logically come to pass. Then your own heart will say, “who am I to ask for anything and how could I expect anything from God. I am nothing in His sight.”
The seas of doubting, unbelieving people around you act like the waves of the ocean to continually wash your faith away. The winds of adversity will come against you and cause you to doubt that God will answer. Your faith is troubled; your heart is restless; your mind is confused; then you become fickle, believing one minute and doubting the next. After that it is easy to be washed away by anyone who says that it could never happen because you’ve already convinced yourself that it’s not likely to happen; and your prayer for wisdom, or anything else, goes unanswered because you began to waver in your faith.
James says that none of us will get anything from the Lord if we waver in our faith. The fact is that, if we can’t truly believe that God will hear and answer our prayer, then we come to the conclusion, “Why pray? Why ask in the first place? If God’s not going to answer then I’m wasting my time asking, so forget it.” There is the answer why most Christians don’t really have a consistent prayer life!
Then James says that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. Never a more true statement has been made than that!
Double-minded people can’t make up their minds about anything. You can’t trust them to do what they say they will do, or anything else. They may mean well, but they never perform. They are constantly writing checks with their mouth that their body won’t cash. Always saying one thing, and then doing another. They praise God with their mouth, but serve the devil, and self, with their body.
No matter what the subject, they are always confused. They can’t seem to get their act together and their thoughts are in a constant state of confusion.
When they do get around to praying to God, they don’t even know what to ask for because they don’t know if it’s of God’s will or not. Even their convictions are constantly changing because they really don’t know what they believe anymore. Everything in life is uncertain. They don’t see anything as issues of right or wrong, black or white, but everything just seems to fade in multiple shades of gray and it’s hard for them to decide what to do in most circumstances. You can’t pin them down to a certain opinion because they are easily swayed by those around them. (It sounds like a good Louisiana Politician to me.)
What this man needs more than anything else is wisdom. He needs wisdom to know how to pray and what to pray for. But before his prayer can be answered and God can give him the wisdom he needs, he must get his heart right with God and then start exercising his faith and trust in God’s willingness to answer his prayer.
It can all become a vicious circle, not asking, not believing, wavering, no receiving, and then not asking for the cycle to stop.
Let’s break that cycle in our lives and learn to trust in God. Ask God for wisdom. He will give it to us if we believe he will. Ask God for whatever you need and he will give it to you if you will have faith to believe. If you are asking according to his will, then you know it will come.
God wants us all to have wisdom. He wants to give us good things. Let’s ask, believe and receive God’s best for our lives.