Week 33 Word: Seek Wisdom
Week 33 Text: James 1:5
Written By: Diana Dunne
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5 NLT)
When Whitney assigned the topics for Year of Calling, one of mine was “Seek Wisdom.” (Oh boy, I thought. She thinks I’m wise.) Perhaps I appear “wise” because of my age. Let me be clear: age has little if anything to do with wisdom—especially not the kind to which James is referring in his letter to the church at large.
First, a little knowledge. (Not to be confused with wisdom, but indispensable to it.) This letter was most likely written by the James who was Jesus’ half brother. It was directed to the Jewish Christians, as it was likely written very early in church history AD 44-48—before the Jerusalem Council which opened the church to include the Gentiles. (AD 49; see Acts 15)
Why is this important? Context. As His brother, James knew Jesus all his life; but he became wise after the resurrection. Also, James understood the early church needed godly wisdom so that it wouldn’t fall back into Jewish ways (legalistic knowledge).
If you have ever read the whole book of James, I am willing to guess that, like me, you might have thought, “Man, this dude is HARSH!” (Okay, maybe you wouldn’t say “dude.” I first read James in the seventies.) A huge theme in James is that a Christian’s actions are important, and action must accompany faith. No candy coating.
What has that got to do with wisdom? Glad you asked. James is really taking aim at the foolishness (and evil) of hypocrisy. What we do and say should reflect the Spirit of the only wise God living inside us. James himself might seem legalistic at first glance, but he is really the ultimate pragmatist. Since he wrote to an audience who knew Jewish law, he realized how slippery and seductive it could be to pay lip service to faith, then find a legal loophole to do what one wanted.
So James says if we lack wisdom, we should ask for it. He follows this with a bold guarantee: God will generously, and without rebuke, give us wisdom. The caveat is, God’s wisdom requires us to respond in the real world. That is just common sense. If a good, loving and wise God resides in us, then good, loving and wise works (and words) will flow out of us.
This isn’t easy, but it isn’t rocket science, either. Every day, we are reminded the world is full of people who say one thing and do another. But James is reminding us that we need God’s wisdom to take the knowledge we have (our salvation) and put it to work out there in the world. If this seems a heavy burden to you, I’d like to refer you to a most excellent post by Chrystan Ferrell on “Do Good Works,” found here: https:/www.imperfectlybrave.com/5140-2
There is a relationship between wisdom and discipline. Wisdom is acquired by reading and understanding God’s word, by hanging around with God’s people, by actively applying God’s truth to our lives and life experience. If age has anything to do with wisdom, it is this: more years = more learning opportunities. But without asking for God’s wisdom, experience is just knowledge. And knowledge might change us, but wisdom will change us.
So I may be “old enough to know better,” but I am getting wise enough to ask for help. God wants to reach our 21st century world through our hands, our feet, our words. Seek wisdom.
Take the next couple of days and have a conversation with your Father. Start by asking God for
His wisdom, as it says in James 1:5. Then use the following questions (unless He has other
things to speak to you).
1. This is what I’m doing to serve You right now. (Write down whatever thing or things come to
mind. Take your time. And, it doesn’t have to be “churchy.”) Then ask, Am I making wise use
of my time? What would You have me do (or not do)?
2. How am I doing with my words right now? (Include Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc., as well
as spoken conversations.) Then ask, Am I communicating wisely—as Your daughter? What
would You have me say (or not say)?
3. Thank Him for His generous gift of wisdom! (Read Ephesians 5:15-20.)