Sun. a.m. AGCC 2/9/1997
INTRO: Wisdom is not the same thing as intelligence! While intelligence has to do
with the accumulation of knowledge, wisdom has to do with the use of knowledge. A person can be smart but not wise, and a wise person can be very
So often we ask God for information, but God's wisdom is not so much what we
need to know as much as it is what we need to do!
So often we get frustrated in trying to know about something, and we pray for
God to give us "wisdom" and then feel that God hasn't answered that prayer, but any time we have prayed for wisdom and then been able to put the circumstances of our life in perspective or we have been able to keep a godly
perspective while going through a tough time God has answered us our request
for wisdom....for this is what wisdom is...it is practical insight on situations
with a spiritual perspective, it is not the accumulation of knowledge or
Even in the world there is a recognition of the difference between wisdom as
just information and wisdom that knows what to do! It is this second type of
wisdom that has moved the world, for it offers practical solutions and not just
pride for knowing lots of information.
ILLUS: Thomas Edison had a unique way of hiring engineers. He'd
give the applicant a light bulb and ask, "How much water will it hold?" There
were two ways to find the answer. The first choice was to use gauges to measure
all the angels of the bulb. Then with the instruments in hand, the engineer
could calculate the surface area. This approach could take as long as twenty
minutes. The second choice was to fill the bulb with water, then pour the
contents into a measuring cup. Total elapsed time: about one minute. Engineers
who took the first route, and performed their measurements by book, were
politely thanked for their time and sent on their way. Those who took the second
route would be hired. --
The Equipper (Oceola Grace Ministries, Jan. 1996), p. 2.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that God desires to give us the kind of wisdom
that enables us to see the spiritual perspectives in all of lives experiences so that
we remain strong in our walk with Him no matter the circumstances of life, this
kind of wisdom will make us strong and mature...all we need to do is ask
I. PROMISE OF WISDOM 1:5
A. Request 1:5a
1. The context of verse 5 must be understood in the same context of verses
a. The issue in these earlier verses has to do with trials and temptations
b. The idea of "joy" from trials is a strange concept...it can only work if
one understands the fruit that these trials can produce in our lives...in
other words, perspective!
c. This is where the "wisdom" section comes in, for biblical wisdom is not
information as much as it is perspective!
d. This adds a unique wrinkle to the idea of "wisdom"....not so much a lack
of knowledge as much as a lack of perspective!
2. Thus the need to ask for "wisdom" means to seek God for the right perspective in some situation!
3. If we lack this perspective in some circumstance of our life we are encouraged here by God to come and ask...to make a request!
a. one can be smart but not wise!
b. one can be uneducated, but very wise!
c. It is the lack of perspective that makes us lack wisdom, not the lack of
4. The symptom of lacking wisdom is the lack of joy when facing different trials...connecting this to the previous 4 verses!
a. Note how this statement by James to ask if we lack wisdom just follows
the thoughts he gave on counting it all joy when we face various kinds
b. James is not stupid, he knows that we are not to be joyful ABOUT
the painful trials, but joyful about what the trials can do for our spiritual development when put into a proper perspective!....this is God's wisdom here!
c. If we lack this ability, we should ask for God's wisdom to have a
5. The world will never have this kind of wisdom for they ignore the reality of
God's existence, in doing so they cannot have God's wisdom for they will
fail to have a spiritual perspective...but we must not fail to do so!
ILLUS: "Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society," Supreme court Justice Antonin Scalia said Tuesday, offering a rare glimpse of his private views. "We are fools for Christ's sake," the conservative jurist said. "We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world." Scalia, a Roman Catholic, spoke at a Jackson, Miss., prayer breakfast for students at the Mississippi College School of Law, a Baptist school. He barred TV cameras, but allowed print reporters in.
Scalia said intellectuals through history have
rejected miracles and the Easter story. "The wise do not investigate such
silliness," he said sarcastically. They "do not believe." Scalia said it's
"irrational" to reject miracles. "One can be sophisticated and believe in God.
Reason and intellect are not to be laid aside where matters of religion are
concerned." The audience of 600 gave Scalia a standing ovation.
6. This kind of wisdom comes from God throughout a lifetime, it is not just
dropped into our mind in one great swoop!
a. Each situation we ask for wisdom in will develop our spiritual perspectives so that we become wiser and wiser as time goes on!
b. Wisdom thus grows as we learn to see the spiritual perspective in all of
life's situations, we get better and better at it and quicker and quicker
at doing this too...wisdom grows!
B. Reassurance! 1:5b
1. God assures us here that if we ask He will give us this kind of wisdom, the
ability to learn to see a spiritual perspective in all of life's circumstances.
a. This desire for "wisdom" is not just some casual request either...the verb "ask" used here literally means, "to beg, call for, crave, require"
b. God will not ignore this kind of need...He desires to give us this kind of
wisdom because we cannot live the Christian life without it!
2. God will give this wisdom "without finding fault"...meaning He will not withhold this for any reason in our lives, we cannot live the Christian life
successfully without learning this kind of wisdom, therefore, God grants this request when we ask without conditions!
a. God knows that we must learn to see things different from the world in order to grow spiritually
b. This makes His kind of wisdom an absolute necessity for a Christian,
and God does not keep necessities from us!
3. The ability to put a spiritually positive perspective on everything that happens to us in life is a must for spiritual health to result!
a. Wisdom then is the ability to see the proper perspective on life's trials
b. We always have a choice on how to see things, we can choose a good
way (God's wisdom) or the bad way of seeing things, either way we will
impact our life for good or bad!
ILLUS: The story is told of a man in China who raised horses for a
living. When one of his prized stallions ran away, his friends gathered at his
home to mourn his great loss. After they had expressed their concern, the man
raised this question: "How do I know whether what happened is bad or good?" A
couple days later the runaway horse returned with several strays following close
behind. The same acquaintances again came to his house -- this time to celebrate
his good fortune. "But how do I know whether it's good or bad?" the old
gentleman asked them. That very afternoon the horse kicked the owner's son and
broke the young man's leg. Once more the crowd assembled -- now to express their
sorrow over the incident. "But how do I know if this is bad or good?" the father
asked again. Well, only a few days later, war broke out. The man's son, however,
was exempted from the military service because of his broken leg. Yes, you
guessed it, the friends again gathered -- but we'll stop the story there. You
can easily see how it could go on and on. This tale points out that from our
limited human perspective, it's impossible to know with certainty how to
interpret the experiences of life.
4. God reassures us that He is ready to give us "bountifully" the wisdom we need. (note: the word for "generously" means literally "bountifully" here)
a. God has no desire to withhold this kind of wisdom from us!
b. We can be assured that if we ask in this case we will receive...although
the next few verses indicate that there is only one way to receive this
wisdom....it is the PATH TO WISDOM!
II. PATH TO WISDOM 1:6-8
A. Requirement 1:6a
1. Notice that wisdom does not come through experience or education here, it comes through "FAITH"!
a. Faith is required to put the proper perspective on everything...because
faith means trust in God!
b. Both in asking we must not doubt, nor doubt in God!
c. We must believe God will grant us the ability to see the spiritual perspective if we are to receive it!
2. We may not understand the "whys" in life, but we can understand "what" God can teach us through these unanswered questions!
3. God's assurance is not in getting answers to all our questions, but the
assurance that He is with us and will bring good out of trials!
ILLUS: A little boy came to his father and asked him, "Dad, who
made God?" The father, engrossed in the evening paper, responded, "Beats me,
son." The little boy would not be put off. "Dad, why is the earth round?" The
dad answered, "I don't know, son." The boy played for a minute, then asked,
"Dad, is there life on other planets?" The father patiently answered, "Nobody
knows the answer to that." Finally the boy asked his father, "Dad, do you mind
me asking you all these questions?" The father put down his paper, "Why not at
all son," he said, "how else are you going to learn?"
4. Faith means "trust", it is not saying over and over again "I believe", it is
having confidence in the character of God as a good God!
a. The sense here then is to have confidence in God and not doubt Him!
b. When we ask for "wisdom" we must have confidence in God and not
doubt Him or we can't receive His wisdom!
B. Restless! 1:6b-8
1. When we doubt God's character or goodness we will lose the spiritual perspective (wisdom) that we can only get in having trust in God!
a. This results in a life driven by every emotion in the book!
b. This kind of doubt results in a "divided" mind... the meaning of the term "double-minded" in verse 8. It can also mean "two-spirited" or "vacillating".
2. We cannot receive anything from the Lord if we don't trust Him!
a. If we don't trust God (faith) we will not see correctly or act
ILLUS: Instead of trusting Christ, modern-day thinkers insist on using human wisdom alone for answers to eternal questions.
The tragedy of this situation was graphically
illustrated in a humorous skit performed by Karl Vallentin, a Munich comedian.
Walking on a stage where everything was dark except for a small area under a
street lamp, he began to look for something on the ground. He told the policeman
who came on the scene that he was trying to find a key, whereupon the two
continued the search. Finally the officer asked, "Are you sure you lost it
here?" "Oh, no," said Vallentin as he pointed to a corner, "It was over there,
but here is where the light is!"
b. Wisdom is a gift from God, and like all of God's gifts, it is received by faith or trust in God!
3. The man without faith is a man without God...and a man without wisdom of the kind God alone can give, the ability to see the spiritual perspective in all of life's struggles and circumstances!
4. The wise man is the man that can see the spiritual principles even in tough
situations, the man who can know that God has something good for him when he goes through trials and can't answer the "why" of a trial!
a. It is this same wise man that experiences JOY when he "faces various trials KNOWING THIS, (wisdom) that the testing of our faith develops perseverance....and perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." 1:3-4
b. to fail to have this kind of wisdom will leave a man or woman unstable
in facing life, for they will go back and forth like a waved tossed around
on the sea with their emotions!
c. This kind of doubt leads to a divided mind, convinced of one thing one
minute and then convinced of something else the next.
5. The restless person is one without wisdom therefore....for when wisdom is
received of God there is confidence in God's ability and the sense that even
in this situation God will work out His good in our life.
6. Wisdom then is the spiritual perspective on life's situations, that God is at
work to mature us, and in this sense we can even have "JOY" in various trials KNOWING THIS will produce such spiritual fruit in us...it is the
"KNOWING THIS" that is the wisdom aspect!
7. If you are facing trials and you don't have this kind of perspective you are lacking WISDOM....you need to ask, and if you do He will give this to you!...
but you must ask in faith, in confidence and trust in God!
a. This will take care of the "tossed" or "blown" like the wind!
b. This will give us stability in life
8. Wisdom thus is not the "PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE" as much as it is the "PERSPECTIVE OF THE SPIRIT"!
9. How wise are you?
CONCLUSION: God promises to those who lack wisdom that if they ask in faith they will receive God's wisdom. Wisdom in the book of James is not what you know as in acquired information, it is more knowing what to do! "Doing" is a major theme in the book of James, those who need to know what to do if they ask in faith will be taught by God! Biblical wisdom is understanding the spiritual perspective in life!