“For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you might be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of 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.” James 1:4-8
Do you have what it takes? Or do you sometimes feel woefully inadequate? As w grow in our Christian walk, we see just how important it is to bring the different areas of our lives under Christ’s lordship. Sometimes this can be overwhelming.
When we think of parenting our children so that they’ll be faithful to Jesus.
When we entertain the idea of sharing our faith in our neighborhoods or at work.
When we’re called to leadership in the church.
When we’re called onto the mission field, even if only for a short term mission.
Yesterday, James told us that in our trials, God is working to give us a steadfast joy by giving away our transitory joys. Today, James tells us to let this steadfastness work its course so that we can be perfect (literally, completed) lacking nothing.
He then goes on to show to things we don’t want to be found lacking in, faith and wisdom. Incidentally, both of these qualities increase in us only as we go pass through trials. He zeroes in on these two qualities because of how essential they are in our walk with Christ.
First, he tells us, if we lack wisdom, we can simply ask of God who gives generously to all without reproach. It bears asking what wisdom is though. When I hear Christians talk about wanting wisdom, it sounds to me like what they really want is good advice. In other words, they want wisdom to buy the right house, take the right job, say the right thing, find the right spouse, etc. However, in the biblical literature, wisdom has much more to do with who we are than what we do. Later on, James will compare the meekness of wisdom that shows itself through good conduct with bitter jealousy and selfish ambition that leads to a denial of truth.(James 1:13-14)
Remember what James is aiming at for us here though. Perfection. The request for wisdom is directly attached to the steadfastness that comes from trials. James is encouraging us that if we find ourselves in the midst of trials, then we can ask God to make us the sort of wise people who joyfully endure trials knowing that God is working something greater for us through them.
We cannot make this request, however, without faith. Faith is not, however, the secret decoder ring for gaining the entry into wisdom. Rather, faith is the essential ingredient for wisdom. The Heidelberg Catechism defines true faith with these words “True faith is not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true all that God has revealed to us in Scripture; it is also a wholehearted trust, which the Holy Spirit creates in me by the gospel, that God has freely granted, not only to others but to me also, forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and salvation. These are gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merit.” In other words, faith is not simply trusting that God will give you what you ask for, but trusting Him as a person. Tim Keller once said that many of us put God on the level of a consultant. He then defined a consultant as someone we pay tons of money to so that we can ignore his or her advice
Do we trust God’s word? Or is God only a consultant for us. If so, we will not become wise. We will live our life according to our own wisdom, which as proverbs reminds us “There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is death.”(Proverbs 14:12) Do we trust God to take care of us? If not, we will be as foolish as Chicken Little, crying about the crashing heavens at every trial. Do we trust God’s forgiving grace in our lives? If not, we will be fools chasing at the empty approval of the world like Peter Pan chasing his shadow. Today ask God to give you wisdom, but even more importantly, ask Him to help you to trust Him so that you can become wise.