Most of us have found ourselves at the point of crying out for help at one time or another, but it’s usually our last resort. We commonly try every device known to man to escape admitting that we need help! James takes the word “lacking” from verse 4 and ties it to verse 5, reminding us that the prerequisite to obtaining help with our troubles is to realize that we lack sufficient wisdom to sort them out! The argument is this: When facing trials, it is important to know how to cope with them. The only way that we will be able to understand these trials and respond to them properly is to ask for the wisdom God alone can give.
In a book entitled The Wisdom of God, the following ideas about wisdom were brought together:
What is wisdom?
Coleridge says, “Wisdom is common sense in an uncommon degree.” C. H. Spurgeon defines wisdom as “The right use of knowledge.” Francis Hutcheson says it is “Pursuing the best ends by the best means.” Cicero says, “Wisdom is the knowledge of things human and divine and the causes by which they are controlled.” Someone, unknown to me, has simply added this definition, “Wisdom is knowledge using its head.” If I had to choose my favorite secular definition, I think it would be this one, “Wisdom is doing the right thing without precedent.”
When our friends and loved ones are going through trials, we may think we see what God is doing through the ordeal. But when we are the sufferers, when we are going through the fire, it is very difficult to be as wise. This is why we are to ask God for wisdom.
Nine Hebrew words and five Greek words are translated “pray,” but the Holy Spirit passes by all of them and chooses the more common word “ask.” All we have to do is ask and He will give us the wisdom that we need to get through the storm. I came across a motto several years ago that has helped me more than once to understand the need to seek God’s help. It goes like this:
Unless there is within us that which is above us, we will soon yield to that which is around us.
As James motivates troubled believers to seek wisdom, he describes God in such a way as to make us wonder why we wait so long to reach out for His help.
The Scriptures affirm that God is the source of true wisdom:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding. (Job 12:13)
From where then does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? … God understands its way, and He knows its place. (Job 28:20, 23)
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Prov. 2:6)
Paul prayed “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom” (Eph. 1:17). This God who is the source of wisdom gives to all men. He is good and is not partial to any. He will always answer the prayer for wisdom.
He never turns away a request. He may not always answer on our time schedule … but He always answers!