Summary: In this section of James we learn that trials require wisdom, wisdom requires prayer, and prayer requires faith.
A. One day a man was driving down a country road when his car sputtered to a complete stop near a field with a few cows in it.
1. The driver got out of his car and lifted the hood to see what was the matter.
2. Then he noticed that one of the cows had come over to the fence nearby, and suddenly the cow said, “Sir, I believe the problem with your car is the radiator.”
3. The man was startled and amazed by this and ran to the nearest farmhouse and knocked on the door.
4. When the farmer opened the door, the man with the broken down car said: “My car broke down by your cow pasture, and a cow just gave me advice about my car!”
5. The farmer asked him, “Did the cow have big black spots on it?”
6. “Yes it did,” the man replied.
7. “Well,” said the farmer, “That’s Ethel. Don’t pay any attention to her. She doesn’t know a thing about cars!”
B. So, if you can’t trust the advice of a talking cow, then, who can you trust? Right!
1. To whom should we go for advice and wisdom?
2. James, the writer of the book of James, has a good answer to that question.
3. As we will see in our text for today, James says: “if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God.” (James 1:5)
4. Well, that certainly seems simple enough, but there’s more to it, as we will see.
5. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
C. There’s an old saying that says: “Too soon old, too late smart.”
1. I think there is a lot of truth in both of those phrases.
2. “Too soon old” - Life speeds by and before we know it, we are old.
a. Yesterday we were born, today we live, and tomorrow we die – life rushes on for all of us.
b. But guess what – wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age – sometimes age just shows up all by itself.
3. “Too late smart” – most of us learn the important stuff the hard way and the long way.
a. We often take a long time to “wise up” to what matters most.
b. You’ve heard the proverbial: “no one on their death bed every said: ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’ ”
c. I would add to that: “No dying person ever said: ‘I wish I had spent more time at the mall,’ or ‘I wish I had spent more time watching TV.’ ”
4. Wouldn’t we all like to get wiser about the things that matter most?
5. In today’s verses, James is going to tell us how to get the wisdom we need, but lack.
D. Last week, we explored the first topic that James addressed in his letter – the topic of trials and how to face them.
1. We learned that James suggested that we adopt the radical attitude of welcoming trials as friends and rejoicing about them because they help us grow up and mature in Christ.
2. James said that when endurance has had its full effect, we will be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
3. Today’s verses and topic are linked to last week’s verses and topic by the word “lacking.”
4. Last week, we learned that the ability to triumph in our trials is tied to our ability to see things from God’s perspective and another way to talk about God’s perspective is to talk about having God’s wisdom.
5. God doesn’t want us to be lacking in anything, but one thing we often lack is God’s wisdom.
6. And if we are going to be able to endure our trials joyfully, and bring glory to God through them, then we are going to need God’s wisdom.
7. But how do we get God’s wisdom? Glad you asked!
E. When James began verse 5 with the statement: “Now if any of you lacks wisdom,” he wasn’t suggesting that some don’t need wisdom, but others do.
1. Rather, James was saying: “when you lack wisdom” or “since you lack wisdom” – a lack of wisdom is a given, it is a reality.
2. Truth is: none of us is as smart as we think we are, or as wise as we think we are.
3. We don’t just need God’s wisdom some of the time, we need God’s wisdom all of the time.
4. And that’s often part of our problem – we don’t want to admit that we have a need.
5. But in the end, if we want to have the wisdom we need, we first have to admit that we lack it.
F. But what is wisdom?
1. Wisdom and knowledge are both recurring themes in the Bible, and are related to each other, they are not synonymous.