To those who feel stuck in their current situation and are unsure of which path to take.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
This has to be one of my favorite promises in the Bible. Wisdom is something we all need and James tells us that God’s reservoir of wisdom is always full! So how do we receive wisdom from God?
It begins with realizing that we lack wisdom in the first place. Sometimes it’s hard for us to admit that we don’t know everything! God knows our limitations and wants us to acknowledge our dependence on Him. Once we recognize our need, we simply ask our Father.
And just like that, wisdom is yours. After all, God is generous and gives wisdom to anyone as long as they just ask, right?
Not so fast, says James. How we ask is just as important.
Faith and Doubt
When we approach God with our requests, He wants us to do so in faith. We cannot ask God for wisdom while doubting that He is going to do anything. This is like going up to your father and asking him to borrow money when you think that he is bankrupt. It would be insulting to do such a thing!
So when we come to God and ask for wisdom, we believe God. We believe that God is not just able to give wisdom, but that He will freely give it to us. We must believe that God is good, and that His promises are true. As I heard recently in a song, we must believe that “God’s saying is His doing.”
James uses a strong word picture here to describe those who doubt. When we ask God for wisdom while doubting Him, we are like a wave that is thrown around by the wind. We are drifting aimlessly and out of control. If this describes us, then we shouldn’t expect to receive anything from God!
So ask God for wisdom and take Him at His Word. Then you can confident that wisdom will come from the God “who gives generously to all without reproach.”
Call to Motion
Perhaps you are struggling to make a difficult decision today. You may not know which job to take, which person to marry, which child to adopt, whether or not you should end that relationship. As I mentioned in my last post, my wife and I are trying to buy our first house. We desperately need wisdom.
The first step is simple: ask God!
Maybe you are already asking. Well, keep asking! Make it your prayer day and night. Ask God on the way to work, before your meals, and as you lay your head on the pillow. Repeatedly ask God for wisdom and trust Him for the outcome.
But what do you do when you ask God for wisdom but it doesn’t seem to work? The first we should do is examine our motives. Are we aware of our lack of wisdom and our dependence on God? Are we asking God with a confident faith, knowing that He is good? If not, work through your doubts, your fears and your hesitations and bring them to God.
If your motives are pure, then perhaps God has already given you the wisdom that you are seeking. Perhaps you know what God wants you to do, but you want someone to tell you otherwise. Or perhaps God has shown you what to do, but you think it’s strange.
I’ve learned that if you are being led to do something that seems counterintuitive to you, that’s usually a good sign of God working in you. If the idea doesn’t make sense to you or is something that seems hard for you to do, then you probably didn’t come up with it!
In the end, it’s rather simple. Recognize. Ask. Believe. God is loving, and wants us to make wise decisions in life. Take hold of His promise, and His wisdom will be yours.
Father, how I lack wisdom everyday! Often I don’t know what to do, where to go, or what next step to take. I am foolish and rely on my own wisdom more than Yours. But You have promised to give me wisdom when I recognize my limitations and ask you in faith. May I never doubt Your steadfast promises! Help my trust not to be swayed by hardship or circumstance. Give me wisdom, and guide my steps so that I may be pleasing in Your sight. Amen.