At the rate we’re going through the book of James, we might take nearly as long as we did to study Romans! Tonight we looked at just one verse: “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)

All of us lack wisdom to some extent; certainly, none of us can claim to be as wise as God (see Romans 11:33). We are encouraged to ask God for wisdom (just as Solomon did). Wisdom can be defined as ‘practical application of knowledge’, ‘spiritual insight as to what to do in any given situation’ or, in Garry’s words, ‘wisdom is the product of survivable mistakes’! Wisdom in the natural sense is acquired through knowledge, reading, learning and applying what we learn to real-life situations. In some ways, spiritual wisdom is similar, in that our main source of wisdom is going to be the Bible (see Col 3:16), teaching us more of the character, nature and ways of God. There is, however, a wisdom that comes directly from the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor 12:7-8, 1 Cor 2:6), given to us when we need it, perhaps on special occasions, often for the benefit of others. God’s wisdom may at times be hidden (meaning we have to dig to find it, as with hidden treasure), and certainly it is vastly different to our normal ways of thinking (see 1 Cor 1:18-25).

Wisdom does not necessarily look glamorous or fill us with confidence: Paul talked about preaching in ‘weakness with great fear and trembling’ (1 Cor 2:3), but ultimately that helps us to rely not on our own strength, but on God’s power (1 Cor 2:4-5). This verse in James reassures us that if we ask God for wisdom, He will undoubtedly give it to us. He is generous, liberal, a gracious Father who loves to give good gifts to His children. He gives to us ‘without finding fault’, not reproaching us for any lack we may have, but being willing to supply what is required to meet all our needs. He does not patronise us or act in a condescending way to us, looking down on us for our lack of wisdom. Instead He is generous, able to give us the ‘Spirit of wisdom and revelation’ (Eph 1:18) so that we may know Him better. That knowledge shapes our lives, aligning us with His truth and allowing us to shine forth, reaching out to call others to know Him too. We grow in love, in compassion and in kindness as His wisdom gives us insight and practical experience.

Our response is to receive in faith and to obey those gentle whispers from the Spirit, which may well not make any sense to us, which may well leave us in fear and trembling, but which can unlock situations and allow God to move in situations. He is the One who receives all the glory!