2Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various types of tests, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4Now let patience have its complete work, so that you might be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5But if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives liberally to everyone and does not reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But let him ask with faithfulness without doubting. For the one who doubts is like a wind blowing over the sea, blown and tossed about. 7Such a man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8He is divided in mind, unstable in all his ways. — James 1:2-8 (TFBV) [Emphasis mine]
We don’t do that much reading in the book of James, which is unfortunate, because it has a great deal of good advice. Often that advice is pretty hard. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to implement.
The admonition of this text is one of those things. How simple can it get? You need wisdom? Ask God. Just do it.
But putting that into practice gets very complicated. You see, there are a few snags in the process of getting wisdom. For one thing, James starts the passage out by giving us one of God’s primary ways of going about giving us wisdom. He does so by allowing us to be tested, and helping us through by his grace.
Of course, we don’t quote that part nearly as much. We’d much prefer the notion that if I kneel down and pray, asking God for more wisdom, my wisdom will magically increase. One of the primary reasons I personally would like wisdom is so that I could avoid some of those trials.
We need to add in the last part of the passage as well. When we read just James 1:5-6 we think first of God giving everyone wisdom liberally and that â€œmagicalâ€ increase in wisdom, then in verse 6 we get the idea that we have to get through our prayer for wisdom without doubting that God can get us there.
But as with many things in the Bible there’s another twist to this one. We’re going to need that faith and faithfulnessâ€”the Greek word here implies bothâ€”to get through the testing. In fact, one of the key things God is going to do is to make sure that we make it through the test and grow in wisdom as a result. God is going to change our own perspective. If we’re going to let that happen we’re going to have to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, â€œauthor and perfecter of our faithâ€ (Hebrews 12:2), else the trial will just be a trial.
A trial that is just a trial is a tragedy.
But God promises that they can be more. There is one final thing to remember about asking without wavering or doubting. In our daily lives we ask questions and then we look for answers. We are not surprised when it takes tome time to find the answer. With God we want an answer yesterday. Being steady, not doubting or wavering, means that you continue to ask God. Don’t give up.
Asking is simple. Sticking with the plan is a bit more difficult. But it’s the road to wisdom.