Summary: Encouragement to act wisely in the midst of pressure packed situations.
WHEN YOU LACK WISDOM
Ralph had worked for his company for almost 15 years and he had always been one of the top salesmen. But the economy had slowed down to a snail’s pace and no one was placing orders with him anymore. The pressure was really beginning to mount, and past performance and years of service didn’t count for anything. The boss called him in and said, “If you don’t get out there and drum up some business in a hurry, I’ll find someone who will”. So the heat was turned up another notch. What was Ralph to do? He was already working harder than he ever had, spending more time on the road, knocking on more doors, but he had very little to show for his efforts, and his deadline was rapidly approaching.
There was one thing he could do. There were some good sales that he knew were coming in a couple of months, and he could fudge on the paperwork and make it look as if he had already closed them. That would satisfy the boss for a while until something else came along. The more he thought about it and the greater the pressure on him, the more he was able to rationalize away the unethical nature of his plan. And in the end he told his wife that he had even prayed about it and felt that God wanted him to do this to protect his family.
This situation is fictional, but maybe some of you have been or are in situations where the pressure is so great, that like Ralph you are considering to do something that you would never do any other time. You see, when pressure mounts on us, the normally clear lines of right and wrong seem to become obscure. The greater the pressure the harder it is to act in a God-edifying manner.
It can happen to teens when it comes final exam time, or when a boy or girl friend is pushing to abandon convictions in the area of proper sexual conduct. What do you do when the pressure is intense and you’re becoming less sure about the proper way to act?
James seems to be writing to teenagers, to business men and women, in fact to every one of us. He is telling us what to do when the pressure gets so great we have lost or are loosing our sense of Godly living.
James 1:5-8, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But 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. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
This setting is similar to that which we saw Ralph in a few moments ago, where trials and sufferings have come like an unwelcome army invading our lives. Because the pressure is really turned up, our firm convictions of the godly way of acting are under attack and we just aren’t sure what to do.
My personal experience is that in situations like this, Christians, just like you, can come up with some of the most innovative and amazing rationalizations of God’s will. Our goal is to relieve the pressure, and if we have to, we can convince ourselves that God is actually leading us to do something against his revealed will. The deceitfulness of the heart is without boundaries. When the pressures of life are so great that confusion and doubt begin to filter into our thinking and acting, what do you do?
Once again James puts his finger on a raw nerve and then he says here is what you do, here is the plan: PRAY! Prayer is the duty recommended to suffering Christians, but fortunately James gives us a few more details about this prayer.
I. ASKING GOD
What a novel idea! If you are in the midst of a great trial and you are confused and uncertain, ask God. Many people listen to Dr. Laura on the local radio station, while many others run to the Christian bookstore and go through the vast selection of books that tell us “how to handle pressure.”
We have so many human resources today, why would we ever go to God? What could He possibly add? Our human resources tell us how to mask pain or get out from under it, but God says, “Let it have its full effect so you may be a complete Christian, and when you struggle in the midst of it, go to God!”
Picture a child after the school bully has made the day miserable for him. He wants to fight and cry and run away all at the same time. He is mad, sad and scared all at the same time. He goes home to Mom and says, “Mom, what can I do?” As good and faithful as Mom is to help and protect, there is someone better to go to for help, and it’s not Dad! A child can go to Jesus, for He hears children as well as adults, for help in knowing what to think and how to act. Jesus loves children and He wants them to grow to love Him more. He even puts hard things in their lives so they will come to Him and ask for help, depending on Him, shaped by His tender hands.