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Summary: True wisdom - the whos, hows and whys!


James 1:5-11


A man was pulled over by a policeman and asked if he knew he was going too fast.

He said, ‘I’m sorry officer. I had my cruise control on and just forgot the speed limit changed.’ His wife said, ‘Harry, I told you two miles ago that you were speeding.’ Harry gives his wife a dirty look as the officer pulls out his ticket book.

‘By the way, sir, did you know that your left rear signal lense was broken?’ the policeman asks, to which Harry replies, ‘Oh wow, it must have just happened in the mall parking lot we just left.’ His wife again interrupts and says, ‘Harry, how can you sit there and lie to that nice policeman? I told you to fix that three weeks ago!’ Harry gives another look that could kill as the officer starts writing.

The policeman adds, ‘I am going to have to cite you for not wearing your seatbelt, also.’ Harry says, ‘I just unbuckled as you came up to the car so I could get to my driver’s license if you needed it.’ The little lady pipes up, ‘Harry, you know good and well, I tell you all the time that you better buckle up, ’cause YOU NEVER WEAR YOUR SEATBELT!’

Having taken all he can stand Harry turns to his tormentor and says with great exasperation, ‘Woman would you keep your big mouth shut!’

Now the officer looks at and addresses the little lady and asks, ‘does he verbally abuse you like this often, ma’am?’

Says she, ‘Oh no, only when he has had one drink too many.’

Abraham Lincoln said, ‘I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.’

Well this morning we come to that passage in James where it talks about true wisdom and how to get it. Let’s consider what this wisdom James is talking about really is.


Is it the same as knowledge? Is wisdom really just another name for knowledge?


Knowledge is closely aligned with wisdom – listen to 2 Chr 1:10-12 (READ PASSAGE) But as Billy Graham says, ‘Knowledge is horizontal; wisdom is vertical and comes from above.’ Scripture makes it clear that they often go together – but you can be knowledgeable & yet unwise. LOOK UP THE SCRIPTURES ON YOUR OUTLINE AT YOUR OWN LEISURE TO PROVE THIS. So knowledge isn’t wisdom – but wisdom is knowledgeable. Wisdom knows what is right. Do you understand the difference?

Is wisdom discernment? Is discernment really another name for wisdom?


Likewise discernment is often linked with wisdom in Scripture – (READ PROV 17:24). Scripture makes it clear that discernment and wisdom often go together, but as the passages on your outline indicate it is not the same as wisdom. Discernment isn’t wisdom – but wisdom is discerning. And discerning the need for wisdom is wise! They go together – yet discernment is not wisdom.

Is wisdom understanding? Could the word understanding replace wisdom?


Listen to an example of how understanding is often linked to wisdom – (READ PROV 3:19; 24:3). And yet again understanding although closely tied to wisdom is not wisdom. Once again the passages on your outline proclaim this.

How would you define the wisdom James is referring to?


Wisdom = not so much what we need to know as what we need to do! ‘Who is wise & understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.’ (James 3:13) It is being able to detect God’s hand in our everyday circumstances and face them in a godly way. Wisdom is what is true and right combined with good judgment. That’s wisdom! And that’s the wisdom that James is encouraging us to seek. In James 3:17 we are told this, ‘But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy & good fruit, impartial & sincere.’

Now according to this James passage,

1. To Whom Is The Promise Directed?

Look at James 1:5, ‘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.’

We need to recognise that James is addressing believers – those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember vs 1, ‘James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations…’

So this God-inspired word from James is directed to those in the family of God. ARE YOU PART OF THAT FAMILY? Scripture teaches us clearly that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Do you reverence, trust & hold in awe the one & only true & living God? ‘James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations…’ ‘…If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God …’

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