Daily Update #282
Pause: “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.” Proverbs 3: 13
Reading: James 1: 5 – 8 “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. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
Three weeks ago, when writing about the wisdom that is mentioned in the Book of Ecclesiastes, I referred to the first verse of this passage, about asking God to supply us with wisdom, which is, of course, different from knowledge. At that time I didn’t look at these verses in any depth, so today I would like to think about these words a little more.
Before that, a reminder of where we began yesterday, when Ian started our series in this letter from James, the brother of Jesus. In yesterday’s Reflection we saw that each one of us will face trials in our walk with Jesus; James challenges us to face such trials with joy because they lead us on, through perseverance, to maturity in our faith. This seems to be a really difficult thing to do, especially when facing challenging circumstances such as we are facing in St. John’s at the present time. But James does not just leave it there; he goes on to tell us, in our reading for today, that when facing trials and difficulties we should ask God for the wisdom that will enable us to use these tests of our faith to grow deeper in our spiritual lives. So, what is this wisdom that God will supply? In chapter 3 of this letter, verse 17, James tells us that, “the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” This verse is well worth looking at in more detail, but as Matt will be looking at this verse more closely in a couple of weeks’ time I will leave it there.
However, there are two key thoughts in our short reading today that we need to hold onto. Firstly, we are told to ask for this wisdom from God, who gives generously to all. God our Father does not leave us to blunder our way through life’s trials and difficulties, even though it may sometimes feel like that. Indeed, as we well know, this week has been particularly challenging, but I believe that our loving heavenly Father has continued to hold each one of us in the palm of his hand, and he has heard every prayer that we have uttered this week. God gives us practical insight as well as spiritual guidance when we turn to him for help, and he doesn’t just give us a teaspoonful of help, he gives generously. His generosity didn’t end with the coming of Jesus; we celebrated Pentecost at the start of this week, and God’s Holy Spirit is with each one of us, and in each one of us, to lead us, guide us, teach us, strengthen us, and to reveal to us the heart of our Father in heaven.
Secondly, there is a big BUT. James goes on to tell us that when we ask for God’s wisdom we must believe and not doubt, however hard that seems at times. It is imperative that we believe that God not only hears our prayers but also that he answers them, even if we don’t seem to get the answer immediately. Our heavenly Father loves us and desires the best for us; we must be firm and constant in our trust in our loving Father who will answer our prayers.
Of course, that then places a responsibility on us, in that we need to obey whatever the Father reveals to us. We are not to be, as James tells us, those who are like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed about by the wind. The Greek here actually says that such a person has two minds, one serving God and one serving someone else. We need to be wholehearted in our devotion to God, serving him and him only, trusting him with every aspect of our life, confident that he will answer our prayers and will, as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians, chapter 4 verse 19, “meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
A prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are always ready to hear us when we call upon you for help. When we face difficulties help us to trust you, to ask in faith for the help and wisdom that you are always ready to pour out upon us, and then help us, by your Holy Spirit, to put into practice those things that you reveal to us. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord and Saviour, Amen.