Summary: In a world where being undecided is a badge of honor, how do we learn to make wise decisions?
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)
Did I ever tell you about the young Zoad?
Who came to a sign at the fork of the road
He looked one way and the other way too
The Zoad had to make up his mind what to do - Well, the Zoad scratched his head,
And his chin, and his pants. - And he said to himself, "I’ll be taking a chance.
If I go to Place One, that place may be hot
So how will I know if I like it or not.
On the other hand, though, I’ll feel such a fool
If I go to Place Two and find it’s too cool
In that case I may catch a chill and turn blue.
So Place One may be best and not Place Two.
Play safe," cried the Zoad,
"I’ll play safe, I’m no dunce.
I’ll simply start off to both places at once.
And that’s how the Zoad who would not take a chance
Went no place at all with a split in his pants.
Those words of wisdom from Dr. Suess really do describe many people. In a world where being undecided is a badge of honor, how do we learn to make wise decisions?
Remember that trouble is a natural part of life (James 1:2). Not only are they a part of life but troubles can produce great results (James 1:3-4). We can count it joy when we go through trials if we consider what those trials will produce in our life if we show patient endurance. Romans 5:1-5 tells us there is a four-step process that will happen in our life if we let God use our trials for good:
Tribulations – pressures of the world we live in.
Perseverance – learning to stand in the face of those pressures.
Character –Through experience we see the faithfulness of God.
Hope – We know that God will do the same thing the next time.
Christians know that our troubles are overseen by God and therefore cannot in the ultimate sense harm us. As Donald Grey Barnhouse once said, “The Christian’s life, is like the turbulent rapids of a river, but he knows that the river comes from a still spring and is flowing into a calm ocean.’
After we remember these truths about trials we then need to recognize some basic truths. First: troubles can deplete you (James 1:5a). “If any of you lacks” says James. The verb is in the passive tense and can be translated, “if any of you is being caused to lack.” This reinforces the idea of verse 2. As we go through life we fall into trials and those trials can cause us to lack wisdom. The word lack means to be destitute and emptied out, as a person in deep poverty (see James 2:15). Troubles can empty us out and often we think we need the wrong things to fix that problem.
Secondly: troubles should cause you to desire wisdom (James 1:5b). It is wisdom that we lack. Scripture commands us to pursue wisdom. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). The Bible also makes it plain that true wisdom comes from God, not ourselves (see James 3:17; Colossians 1:9,28-29). But what is wisdom? Job 28:28 simply says, “…the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.” The fear of the Lord is a daily awareness of the constant presence of God. Knowing that God is really here changes the way we face trials and temptations. J.I. Packer observed; “Living becomes an awesome business when you realize that you spend every moment of your life in the sight and company of an omniscient, omnipresent Creator”
James is not talking about some academic knowledge but rather wisdom to live rightly in the dailyness of life.
Once you recognize these things we are told to ask God for something. If a person needs wisdom, let him ask. This word almost always carries the idea of a lesser seeking something from a greater (see Matthew 7:7-10; Acts 3:2). Ask is in the Present Imperative meaning, “let him keep on asking.”
When tempted to be weak: keep on asking for strength
When tempted to seek revenge: keep on asking for mercy
When tempted to gossip: keep on asking for a quiet tongue