1. What is wisdom?
Wisdom is the ‘how to’ that goes with knowledge. We know quite a lot about coronavirus, but we desperately need a breakthrough in this area of ‘how to’ – how to cure the infection and how to prevent it. God, who is all-knowing, has that wisdom – and we are the ones who know how how to ask Him.
We need wisdom! Our death rate the highest in Europe. New admissions are still rising. There is no clear end in sight from what the Prime Minister described as “this devilish illness” ( he was right about that).
We desperately need the missing piece of the puzzle, the clue that unlocks the conundrum, the solution no one has thought of yet.
James, writing to first-century believers in newly-started home-based churches outside Jerusalem, has an answer. Like us, these early believers were facing risk – look what had happened to Stephen – and living in uncertain times, trying to work out the ‘how tos’ of being a church. This is the advice James gave them:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
It seems too simple to take seriously. “You should ask God…”. Well, he would say that!
But we SHOULD ask God, and repent of seeking wisdom in every other quarter apart from a word from God — which might just be a scientific discovery from God!
James assumes two things that would have been completely normal and expected in any church gathering of that time.
First, he assumes hearers will have come to a committed, personal relationship with Jesus, accepting His sacrifice of Himself for our sins, and also submitting their lives to Him as Lord.
Second, He assumes they have all had an empowering encounter with the Holy Spirit, like the first believers did at Pentecost.. This was general. They needed more than KNOWING how to live in the new life Jesus brings – they needed to be empowered to DO it, to have revelation of the reality of resurrected Jesus in their lives.
The relationship with Jesus is like the manual we get with a new appliance from Curries telling us to make sure the machine is plugged in. It will also say, make sure the power is on and flowing!
2. How to seek God’s wisdom
What has this to do with James’ question? Everything. We have two-thirds answered it already .
Wisdom comes to us when we turn to Jesus, by the Holy Spirit giving us revelation. It is all about the relationship – and we have that relationship. Or rather, we are given that relationship by Jesus because He is like that.
Two-thirds of the way – but there is one more thing.
We have to ask. To actually ask, as those serious about getting an answer.
3. How to ask.
- ADMIT our need of God’s wisdom as ours is insubstantial.
- STOP the various ways we pursue our own wisdom. Put them down. This is not ‘Plan B’, not a back-up for our own efforts.
- Humbly, but confidently – ASK, expecting that wisdom will come. Not always an immediate flash of insight, but it will come. now here’s the thing. Suppose there is a boffin out there – an eminent researcher, I should say – who had a line off study that seemed to have reached a dead end – and work was stopped. It could have been a plant derivative, or a genetic theory, or a medical trial. And they were prompted to revisit it – and made a discovery that no one could have predicted! Entirely possible by prayer and faith – and we are the ones who know how to do that.
- So we ask God for the breakthrough which we RECOGNISE is in heaven. He is all-knowing – so without doubt He has all the answers. Our job is to pray that wisdom down to earth. So we do, and thank God for it, in anticipation.