Summary: Advice from a friend . . . it can be extremely helpful and life changing if listened to and applied. Jim has a lot to teach us. Let’s listen and learn.
According to Jim
Have you ever met one of those people who just gave really sound advice? You know there are really smart folks in the world that have all kinds of brilliance, degrees, and knowledge, but there is just this ordinary person who has the ability to just cut through the chase and give you insight and information that impacts and changes your life forever.
That is the information that we are going to be going over in the next few weeks. Jim can teach us volumes. His short writings in the New Testament are some of the most down to earth, insightful, and unlived portions of text in the Bible.
So, over the course of the next 5 weeks let’s examine some of these simple, but challenging truths from Jim by tackling one chapter each week.
1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.)
A. According to Jim we must have the correct perspective on the purpose of testing.
Testing isn’t to destroy you! Testing is to strengthen you and promote you in your walk with Christ. Some of you are living mad at God and mad at people and therefore you remain immature and lack much. Jim makes it clear that it is testing that matures us. It grows us up! Quit complaining about the test and pass it already! Quit trying to escape the test too early. If you get out early you flunk and will have to take the test again. Some of you act like God is your enemy because He allows tests to come your way. Perhaps rather than your enemy He is your friend! He is trying to better you! I have told you 2 times already and I will tell you again . . . an unresisted life is a weak and wasted life. Jim says trials, when we allow them to work out their purpose in us, produces patience. Have you ever seen a more impatient generation or society? Perhaps we are so impatient because we have failed to allow trials to shape us and mature us and we try to escape all and any pain.
5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
(People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.)
B. According to Jim we should ask God for wisdom!
Jim gets a really novel idea. Ask the God of all wisdom for … wisdom! The Bible declares that we have not because we ask not. I wonder how many of us could use a good old heaping helping of some God wisdom? And yet, most of us will ask advice, opinions, council from everyone (well what do you think, what should I do) except the ultimate source. Wisdom is obtainable, but you have to ask for it and submit to it. We need to understand that there are two kinds of wisdom: Wisdom based on limited knowledge and experience or wisdom based on all knowledge and experience. So why do we place higher value on Aunt So and So and my best friend Fred’s wisdom than on the wisdom of God? Do we lack trust? Do we lack expectation of an answer?
Need advice in business? Here’s an idea . . . Ask God.
Need marriage help? Ask God.
Need parenting insight? Ask God.
Need medical expertise? Ask God.
I am afraid that we turn to God as a last resort rather than our first option. We only turn to Him to validate what we have already heard from others rather than the other way around. Should we seek council from others? Yes, the Word says there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. However, we should seek God first and His council should trump everyone else’s council. Not vice versa!