30 Sept 2020
After sharing about counting it all joy when we face various trials, James straightaway went to verse 5 in chapter 1: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
It is as if James was telling us that we need wisdom to understand various issues in life, including the trials, the complexity and perplexity that accompany various circumstances and situations which evolve in our lives and in our walk with God.
If we pause and ponder, we have nothing and have never had anything that we have not received, nor have we done anything good apart from God who did it through us. In ourselves, we are spiritually bankrupt and we need to depend totally on God in every respect. Physically, our very breath and existence come from God and they can be taken away from us in an instance.
God is the provider; we are the receivers. He is the master and Creator of the universe; we are small and insignificant. Although from one viewpoint, we are important and truly valued by God as His image-bearers, yet from another viewpoint, we are quite unimportant subjects in His universe.
It is no wonder that we need to ask God for every good gift and James stated that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (1:17). But we need to ask with no doubting, for the one who doubts is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, and for such a one cannot expect to receive anything from the Lord (1: 6-8). Is it not true that many believers ask God with many doubts in their hearts? Is it also not true that we often forget our actual status as ‘creatures’ before an almighty ‘Creator’ and we come to Him with ‘demands’ and ‘expectations’ not becoming of one who is the ‘clay before the potter’?
Note the qualification by James in 3:13: “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom”. Meekness accepts things that come our way; it does not quarrel with God when discerning aspects of His providence. Instead meekness acknowledges that God knows what He is doing and that He makes all things work together for good for those who love Him – even if at this point of time, things do not appear to be working well at all. A person who is meek accepts the way God orders and allows things in his life; such meekness is a mark of wisdom. The way we react to ‘bad things’ happening in our lives – does it reflect the meekness of wisdom or does it reflect doubts, anger and a rebellious spirit towards God?
The quest for wisdom is a quest for Christlikeness; it is a pursuit of holiness, godliness, marked by prudence, discretion, good sense and self-control. It is a path of righteousness and blessing which truly leads to God’s own glory and faithfulness – a God who is a covenant-keeper and One who keeps all His promises and is totally dependent and perfect in all His ways.
James outlined for us the source of wisdom and her characteristics. The wisdom that comes from God is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (3:17). The wisdom that is earthly and demonic is characterised by bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, leading to disorder and every vile practice (3:14-16).
We will elaborate in more detail the characteristics of the two kinds of wisdom brought up by James in subsequent sharing. But, at this juncture, it is relevant to note that to nurture a godly wisdom, one thing is indispensable.
“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save your souls” (1:21).
The Word of God takes root in our hearts and changes us in ways of which we are at first conscious; by and by, we become aware that we are different from the way we were. The Word has been implanted and taken root, and through the Holy Spirit, it has become the means of life and wisdom to our hearts. We must therefore soak ourselves in Scripture if we seek godly wisdom and the path of righteousness and truth in the Lord.