Summary: God will give us wisdom for trials, but we must ask, believing.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Following the rule that when we’re looking at a passage that begins with the words ‘but’ or ‘therefore’ we have to glance back and find out what they refer to, we look back and remind ourselves that James has begun his letter with encouragement for times of trial, and admonishes his readers to endure in faith and thereby be made strong and mature spiritually.
So when he says “But if any of you lacks wisdom…”, we naturally conclude that he means wisdom pertaining to trials.
Endurance in a time of trial does not merely imply gritting our teeth, suffering in silence and digging in our heels until the pressure is off.
The troubles of life almost always call for some decision-making, some counsel sought or given, some action taken. Therefore they also call for Godly wisdom. If we react to them in our own strength and worldly wisdom we will never submit to God’s will for us in them.
Wilmington’s Book of Bible Lists gives 25 reasons for our suffering, with scripture references.
2. To produce the fruit of joy Ps. 30:5; 126:5–6
3. To produce the fruit of maturity Eccles. 7:3; 1 Pet. 5:10
4. To produce the fruit of righteousness Heb. 12:11
6. To teach us Ps. 119:67, 71
8. To make us like Christ Heb. 12:9, 10; 1 Pet. 4:12–13; Phil. 3:10; 2 Cor. 4:7–10
10. To prevent us from sinning 2 Cor. 12:7, 9–10
11. To make us confess when we do sin Judg. 10:6–7, 15–16; Ps. 32:3–5; Hos. 5:15; 6:1; 2 Chron. 15:3–4
12. To chasten us for our sin 1 Pet. 4:17
13. To prove our sonship Heb. 12:5–6
15. To help our prayer life Isa. 26:16
16. To become an example to others 2 Cor. 6:4–5; 1 Thess. 1:6–7
17. To qualify us as counselors Rom. 12:15; Gal. 6:2; 2 Cor. 1:3–5
19. To make us more than conquerors 2 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:35, 37
21. To drive us closer to God 1 Pet. 4:14; 2 Cor. 12:10
23. To provide for us a reward Matt. 5:10–12; 19:27–29; Rom. 8:16–17; 2 Cor. 4:17
24. To prepare us for the kingdom 2 Thess. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:12
25. To show God’s sovereignty Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 10:13; Ps. 66:10–12; Gen. 45:5–8; 50:20
WHERE WISDOM IS FOUND
Now James is kind here and says, “…if any of you lacks wisdom…”. I say kind, because he would have been very accurate in saying, “Now since no one of you has wisdom…”