James 1:5-8


Bible Study Notes
Seeking Wisdom
James 1:5-8


The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh, Senior Pastor at Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, NE. The text has been edited and condensed by IHCC staff for use as a Bible Study aid.

Intro.--James opens his letter by immediately addressing the difficult problem of testing in the believer's life. (Review verses 2-4.)

God's purpose in all He does is to bring His children to maturity as spiritual adults. Testing and trials are necessary for us to mature.

But there is a further question to be dealt with in the area of trials. I may have the knowledge of the facts that have been given in verses 2-4, but still find myself struggling with how to cope with certain pressure situations.

In verses 5-8, James instructs his readers on how to get the wisdom necessary to function under pressure in a biblical way. He deals with two essential matters:

  1. Where to Go for Wisdom -- l:5
  2. How to Go for Wisdom -- l:6-8
I. Where to Go for Wisdom -- l:5

if any of you -- The way this is stated (first-class condition) assumes that they do indeed have this need. People undergoing trials need special wisdom from God to face them.

lacks -- This connects with what James said at the end of verse 4, that it is God's intention that we be lacking in nothing.

wisdom -- Wisdom is sometimes defined as "the right use of knowledge." It involves applying the truth that we know to the situations that we confront. In the present context James is talking about the ability to take the truth of verses 3 and 4 and apply it to the trials that we are facing. This is a supernatural ability to see the hand of God at work bringing us to perfection in Christ. This perception and understanding do not "just happen."

let him ask of God (present act imperative) -- All who are undergoing trials are commanded to ask God for wisdom in facing them. I need to know how to bear up under the burden and the perception to appreciate its necessity.

All wisdom centers in God. Without a knowledge of Him, we are unable to understand the issues and circumstances of life (cf. Prov. 9:10; 2:6-10).

A recognition of my need and a willingness to be continually seeking (present tense) wisdom from God are crucial to receiving the needed wisdom. There is no room here for self-sufficiency or spiritual pride.

who gives to all men generously -- A proper understanding of the character of God will be an encouragement to us in seeking wisdom from Him. He is a giving God.

without reproach -- We need have no fear of rejection when we come to God for wisdom. He does not ridicule us because we have had to come so many times. Our past failures are not brought up to shame us.

it will be given to him--The wisdom we seek will be ours (cf. Matt. 7:7-11).

So a proper view of the character of God as a giving God will encourage us in coming to Him for wisdom. However, if we expect to receive the wisdom we need, we must come in faith.

II. How to Go for Wisdom -- l:6-8

let him ask in faith -- We must trust that God is able and willing to do as He has promised.

without any doubting -- There can be no wavering between two opinions. I cannot be divided within myself, believing that God can and will do as He has promised and at the same time questioning whether He will.

Yet this is the very situation in which we often find ourselves when we are under great pressure. This trial seems in danger of overwhelming us and we begin to wonder whether God really loves us, whether He is doing what is best for us, whether He will see us through as He promised.

These questions must be put out of our minds as we come to Him. We must come in full reliance upon Him and His promises. We come as His children asking Him to do as He promised.

The one who doubts is said to be like a wave of the sea. That wave is at the mercy and whim of the wind.

A person whose faith is not firmly placed in God and in His character as the giving God lacks stability in his life. He is at the whim of the circumstances that blow upon him.

For a time there is confidence and joy in God. Then, as trials come and persist, there is doubt and wavering. It is a life of instability. Every trial will bring doubt and confusion into the life. 1:7 --

that man -- James disassociates himself from the doubting man.

expect (oiestho, present mid imperative) -- This word implies thought which is based on feeling rather than fact (cf. Phil. 1:17). This man will not receive anything from the Lord. 1:8 --

double-minded (lit. "two-souled.") - Here is a person with a "split personality." He is trying to live as two people; one who trusts God and one who does not. The background for what James is saying is in the Old Testament where a person is instructed to love God with an undivided heart (cf. Deut. 6:5; 10:29).

In contrast, there is the hypocrite who has a double heart (cf. Ps. 12:2). This is a person who is trying to look to God and the world at the same time.

unstable in all his ways -- This person's life is characterized by instability. That inner firmness which gives purpose and direction to life is lacking. Trials and pressure simply emphasize the instability and make it worse. These are strong words given after great reassurance regarding God's purpose and plan in trials.

  • We can be sure beyond a doubt that God will give wisdom for trials to those who ask of Him.
  • We must ask in faith, believing that He is able and willing. There is no "plan B" for us as believers.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, © Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. All quotations used by permission.

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Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.

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