Summary: Facing times of testing with a mature outlook demands insight beyond oneself & what is available in the natural realm. In vv 5-8 three things are mentioned as necessary for meeting successfully the trials of life. These are wisdom, prayer, & faith.
RESOURCES FOR TESTING TIMES
Facing times of testing with a mature outlook demands insight beyond oneself and what is available in the natural realm. In verses 5-8 three things are mentioned as necessary for meeting successfully the trials of life. These are wisdom (5a), prayer (5b), and faith (6-8). The emphasis however is not simply upon the need of these resources. The stress is upon the fact that what is needed is available through the gracious provision of God.
Those that want to understand their trials and obtain growth and wholeness will need assistance. God stands ready to help. This help is made available through prayers that bring believers to wise maturity.
I. ASKING OF GOD, 1:5.
II. ASKING IN FAITH, 1:6a.
III. DOUBLE-MINDED DOUBTS, 1:6b-8.
I. ASKING OF GOD, 1:5.
The first resource available is wisdom which we must ask of God as verse 5 teaches. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he must ask from God, who freely gives to all and does not reproach, and it will be given to him.
You need to grasp that the wisdom needed to handle your trials the right way comes from God. Fortunately, in all Christian trials or temptations wisdom is to be had just for the asking. Many do not specifically ask God for their need of wisdom to understand the life they live and how best to live it. To be willing to ask one must realize the need. Times of testing make us realize our need. [The qualifying “if” should not mislead anyone. The words should be understood to mean: since individuals among you are deficient in wisdom. Often believers lacked the wisdom that was needed to turn trials into triumphs.] James indicates that it is an individual’s responsibility to recognize this fact.
Wisdom is much more than knowledge and intelligence. It is practical discernment, the ability to make wise decisions in difficult circumstances. The Christian needs wisdom so that he might see his trials with God’s insight and make proper use of them. The wisdom that will equip us to meet the ordeals of life is not acquired by reading nor from human teachers. The “fear of the Lord is the starting point to acquire godly wisdom (Prov. 1:7). It can be learned only be received on our knees.
To face life’s quizzes with the right outlook requires continual prayer or perpetual requests to God. When a person needed wisdom, James wrote: let him ask God...(5b). Prayer for wisdom is a mandate. The habitual duty of one willing to recognize a deficiency in wisdom must be to ask God continually for insight. James was recalling Jesus’ repeated teachings and lifestyle. Jesus stressed persistence in prayer and persisted in prayer Himself.
James and his readers understood verse 5 to be an allusion to Solomon’s youthful request for wisdom (1 Kings 3:7). Solomon begged God for wisdom that would be equal to his task. God graciously gave Solomon the requested wisdom for a specific, difficult problem or case (1 Kings 3:16-28). James said God “gives to all,” assuring believers that each one had the same privilege before God as had the famous king. Yet God teaches us that wisdom is derived by asking for each situation. We must ask God for wisdom
God’s generous goodness is an encouragement to prayer. God does not give with a closed fist; He gives with an open hand. He is a God who gives to all persons liberally or freely (5c). Generously and simply, God gives the asking believer wisdom for a specific concern. His gift is without reservation, hesitation, or calculation for a return gift. God’s gifts are marked by a boundless and spontaneous freedom. They are not restricted to certain nations, favored classes, or particular individuals, but available to all believers. No sincere seeker is sent away empty. The text implies that God gives a person wisdom without any secondary motive or deceit. He gives with a single-minded generosity with no strings attached.
That God is predisposed to give good gifts to His children provides a powerful incentive for us to pray. This is true whether the need for wisdom occurs during a time of crisis or relates to day-by-day decisions regarding moral issues or personal concerns.
Furthermore, the gifts of God are always generous. They are unspoiled by hesitation, reservation, or devious intent. Gifts that come with strings attached may not be gifts at all but only exchanges of favors.
James literally titled God the Giving God. The force of the expression is difficult to translate. God’s giving is not so much an act as it is part of His nature. He must give as surely as the sun must give light as it burns or as a flower gives fragrance as it blooms. God’s giving is part of who He is. God simply gives. When believers ask Him to give wisdom, they do not ask Him to do a strange thing.