Summary: James speaks to us about how to receive wisdom from God.
James tells us that wisdom is a gift we should ask for and here in his discussion, he tells us about the giver and the giving of wisdom; and the receiver and the receiving of wisdom. (READ TEXT)
1. The giver and the giving of wisdom - v. 5
James tells us that the giver of true wisdom is God. Some have said that wisdom is to the writings of James, what faith is to the
writings of Paul; hope is to the writings of Peter; and love is to the writings of John. Just as Paul emphasized faith, Peter emphasized hope, John emphasized love, and James emphasized the necessity of true wisdom if the Christian is to live the life he is called of God to live. James says there are two types of wisdom we can live by; and he describes the type of life produced by each in James 3:13-18:
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from
wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
One is an earthly wisdom; the other is a divine wisdom. One has its source in the world; the other has its source in God. Living according to worldly wisdom results in a life that is empty and meaningless; living according to Godly wisdom results in a life that is full and meaningful. Notice how God gives wisdom to those who ask:
A. Generously - “generously to all”
God will not withhold from those who ask. In fact, He doesn’t meet our need according to our need, but according to His abundant supply.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:19 (NIV)
What does this mean? If I were to need a $1 and asked you for $1; and you gave me $1, then you have met my need according to my need. But if I were to need $1 and asked you for $1; and you gave me $10, then you have met my need according to your riches.
This is how God meets our need; including our need for wisdom.
B. Graciously - “without finding fault”
When we admit our need and ask God for wisdom, He never responds with “I told you so!” God isn’t one to rub our noses in our failures; but He rejoices in meeting our need for guidance and wisdom.
This reminds me of the portrait of our heavenly Father found in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24). When the son returned to the father, did the father say, “I told you, you’d be back, sooner or later!” That’s what the son expected to hear. Instead, the Jesus said, “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” The father graciously and generously met his son’s need according to his riches.
In the same way, our heavenly Father will meet our need for wisdom if we will ask Him. James says that God is the source of all true wisdom and He will generously and graciously give wisdom to all who ask.
2. The receiver and the receiving of wisdom - vs. 6-8
God graciously and generously gives wisdom to all who ask, but there conditions that must be met, if we are to receive the wisdom we seek.
James says the receiver of wisdom from God will only be one who is “single minded,” as opposed to being “double-minded” (v. 6).
The person who is not single-mindedly committed to following Christ will not receive anything from Him, for He cannot be trusted.
“Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, (Jesus) said, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.’” - Mark 8:34 (NLT)
“Then (Jesus) said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’” - Luke 9:23 (NLT)