Summary: . In our passage for this morning, James 1:5-8, James is going to introduce two subjects that he will address in more detail later in the letter—wisdom and double-mindedness.
How To Become Wise
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
Pico Canyon Community Church
November 19, 2000
Introduction: Over the last couple of weeks, we looked at how we can experience authentic and pure joy in the midst of our day-to-day trials. James finishes his thought in verses 2-4 of the first chapter of his letter by telling his readers if they persevere with an attitude of joy they will grow in their Christian character and spiritual maturity. Not only that—the growing, maturing believer will not lack anything that they need pertaining to spiritual growth.
In our passage for this morning, James 1:5-8, James is going to introduce two subjects that he will address in more detail later in the letter—wisdom and double-mindedness. We know from our study that James is not calling his readers to perfection, but spiritual maturity. We also know that becoming mature believers in Christ is a process. So there are, obviously, things that we will lack and hope to gain while we are on the spiritual journey toward maturity.
James was well aware of this and, because of his own experiences and knowledge of the truth, had a good idea in what area his readers might be lacking—wisdom. This morning we’re going to look at James 1:5-8 and look at James’ three-fold plan for becoming wise. First, we need to recognize our need for wisdom. Second, we need to request the necessary wisdom. And third, we need to receive the gift of wisdom. Along the way, we’ll also look at how double-mindedness can affect the level of wisdom we have in our lives. Let’s pray.
But if any of you lacks wisdom . . . (v. 1:5a)
Some have suggested that James is beginning an entirely new train of thought in verse five. However, the first word of verse five makes it pretty clear that James is continuing what he started in verse two. The word “but” serves as a connection between verse 2-4 and verses 5-8. Small connecting words like “but,” “and,” and “therefore,” just to name a few, are words that you should key on when studying the Bible. They will help you to determine how a particular verse fits into the framework that you are studying and help you to avoid taking single verses out of context.
James is about to provide his readers with some practical application for what he just taught them in verses 2-4. James’ readers probably read the command to consider every trial an opportunity for joy with difficulty. After all, they were (now here’s a word you’ve probably heard too often over the last week or so) a disenfranchised group of people. They were persecuted for their faith by the Gentile world and disowned by their own people—the Jews.
James says, “if any of you lacks wisdom.” James is not saying that he doubts that his readers have a need for more wisdom. He is saying that he recognizes the need as a forgone conclusion, as a fact of life.
Over the years, I’ve had opportunities to meet people who, shall we say, lacked wisdom. Most were citizens I came in contact with on a wide variety of calls. But some of them wore the same uniform as me.
I remember one summer afternoon, probably twelve or thirteen years ago. I was working one of the jails in Castaic. It was an open compound with a dozen or so dorms, each designed to accommodate at least 100 guests.
I was getting ready to start my shift and was walking down the main hallway of the administration building when I saw several deputies sitting on a wooden bench, outside the infirmary. The bench was usually reserved for sick or injured inmates. As I got closer, the deputies looked up at me with red, tear-stained faces. The deputies had their uniform shirts off and I could smell a very distinct, recognizable odor coming from their persons.
They looked up at me and one of them said, “Tony, you’re not going to believe what happened today.” Then they shared their story with me.
You see—we had a sergeant at the time, who has since retired, who was not necessarily well liked by the rank and file. He was a stickler for procedure and had a tendency to pick inopportune times to run us through some unorthodox training. On this particular day, the sergeant decided he wanted to practice entering a dorm during a mock riot. Before sending a platoon of deputies into the vacant dorm, the sergeant pulled a small metal canister from a green canvas bag. He also liked realistic props.
He gripped the canister in one hand and slipped the index finger of the other hand through the small ring attached to a pin at the top of the can. One of the deputies, who had the presence of mind to keep his eye on the sergeant, saw what the sergeant was about to do. With all the tact he could muster, the deputy asked the sergeant if he was sure he wanted to throw the canister into the dorm. The sergeant gave the deputy a look of indignation (he also didn’t like to be questioned—ever) and brought his arm back to make his throw.