Asking for Wisdom, Acting on Faith
By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: James Chapter 1
Key Verses: 1:5-8
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Have you ever asked a question and couched it with, “This is probably a dumb question, but…”? I have said this when I was insecure of how my question would be received. I have asked it when I meant to ask in advance that the other person not embarrass me because of my ignorance and so that I wouldn’t feel stupid. It’s an apology in advance for not knowing something. But, we can’t know everything, can we? And just like a loving, earthly father would respond to a child who asks a question, even if it is something the father thinks the child should already know, the father lovingly listens and provides an answer, teaches the child. And so it is with God who loves us. James reminds us that we can ask God for wisdom and he does not reproach us, but responds generously, providing the information we need when we need it.
It’s o.k. not to know everything and it’s o.k. to ask God for help when we need it. The scripture tells us that He knows what we need, even before we ask, but He wants us to ask. He wants us to be in relationship with Him. He wants us to seek Him. He wants to act as our loving father who responds to us when we need Him.
But, if we ask God for wisdom, and He is THE authority of wisdom, but then we doubt that wisdom after He has enlightened us, we insult Him. It’s as if we are just gathering information, so that we can consider all the options and weigh the pros and cons in order to make a decision. When we doubt God, we are deciding with our intellect and reasoning that we know better than God!! Often, I think it’s about fear—we are afraid to follow God’s wisdom, because we lack faith. Or we willingly choose to go against Him and do something else, usually something that is a result of our lustful nature. It makes sense then that James says that the one who asks but doubts should not expect to receive anything from God.
The “double-minded” or “unstable” man he refers to is the one who wavers in his faith. He doesn’t know who he is in his relationship with God. Per the KEY WORD Study Bible (NASB) which I am using for this blog, “double-minded” means “two-spirited.” The scripture says we cannot follow two masters, so when we are unsure, we can’t be following God’s wisdom because what is pure cannot be mixed with what is impure—all will be tainted. Not to be definitely following God is to not follow him—when we waver in our faith and our decision to follow His wisdom, we follow our own reasoning and not that of God.
James tells us to ask God for wisdom and to ask with confidence that He will advise us and give us the information we need and will guide us in His will. But, we need to heed the wisdom and advice of God in faith. If faith is, as we read in our study of Hebrews 11:1, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” we are advised to follow God’s wisdom without knowing in advance the outcome and trusting that God’s outcome will prevail and be in our best interest. He will give us our “daily bread” as we need it. As He leads we should follow, even if we can’t see the end of the road. “For we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).”
Prayer: Holy God, the Author of Wisdom, help me in my disbelief and my lack of faith. Help me not to be afraid but to follow your wisdom—“Thy will be done.”