“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubt, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6
Have you ever read this verse and wondered why God chose wisdom as the guaranteed yes? When I read this verse, I was slightly frustrated. Why couldn’t the guaranteed yes be something more exciting than wisdom? We would prefer a promise for healing, a promise for a timely answer, or a promise for financial security—surely these things might provide more practical peace and fulfilling prayer than wisdom. Although wisdom may not sound like the ideal answer from the Lord, I think you & I have an improper view of the value of biblical wisdom. Once we search the Scriptures and understand what is promised to us by this verse, “wisdom” can become the most treasured guaranteed “yes” from our Father.
The author of the book of James put together a book that seems like a miscellaneous collection of practical Christianity, with commands to remain steadfast, be impartial, watch your tongue & be mindful of how fleeting life is. But if you read this book with the wisdom literature of the Bible in mind (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, mainly), it’s easy to see that James is teaching his readers to live in light of the “wisdom from above” that he defines as “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere” (James 3:17) and every “practical” point that he makes finds its roots in Old Testament wisdom principles. So, when James tells us in chapter one that this “wisdom from above” is given generously to all, what does that mean? Why can wisdom be so freely given?
As James did, let’s look back at Old Testament wisdom in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a book of practical wisdom that is meant to teach readers how to “fear God, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7) and most of the chapters deal with day-to-day issues. However, just because the author of Proverbs is teaching us how to be wise doesn’t mean he isn’t teaching us about Jesus. In chapter 8, wisdom takes the stage and defines itself:
“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth…when He established the heavens, I was there; when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above…when He marked out the foundations of the earth, I was beside Him, like a master workman, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world, and delighting in the children of man” (Proverbs 8:22-31).
Who does that sound like to you? Who was, according to John 1, “in the beginning with God” who “all things were made through”? Who delights in the works of the Father, rejoicing in the world and the people He created? Jesus does. He holds all things together, He is before all things, and He is the fullness of God sent down to us.
Paul sees this in Scripture and includes it in his letter to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians chapter 2 says this: “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Wisdom describes Himself in Proverbs chapter 8 as standing next to the Father in creation. John tells us that Jesus was in the beginning with God, by whom He made all things (John 1). 1 Corinthians tells us that Christ is the power and wisdom of God. So, what is Biblical wisdom? The person of Jesus Christ! How AWESOME is the Bible? Jesus was the One who was with God in creation, He is the power of God, and He is God who put on flesh and dwelt among us. To know Jesus, then, is to know wisdom—He is wisdom itself!
James says that God gives wisdom generously to all without reproach. Why does God promise to give us wisdom when we ask? Because He gives His Son freely to all who ask! Because “all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). The Father has not withheld Jesus from us, and Christ is the “wisdom and power of God”, so if Christ is not withheld from us, then the wisdom found in Him isn’t either. When we accept the gift of salvation in Christ, the forgiveness, kindness, love, and grace of God are freely given to us. The Holy Spirit becomes a guide and a friend, as we walk through life seeking to know and honor Him. And, as we look to God for wisdom on how to live a life that brings glory to Him, He is always giving us more wisdom because He freely gives us Jesus.
When we ask God for more wisdom, He bursts at the seams to say yes because we are asking for more of Jesus—and that is a prayer He bled and died and rose again to say “yes” to. There is nothing in this world that can restrain His love toward His children. Let us seek wisdom with all of our heart, and rejoice in finding it at every turn as our Good Father answers “yes” to our every need for Him.
My name is Sam Arp and I am a college student in Charleston studying writing! I just really love studying and teaching the Bible & seeing people come to know Jesus for who He really is. 🙂