If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed in the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8
A dear co-worker’s family has been going through some upheaval with her husband’s job. It has been a three month roller coaster and they have faced several forks in the road where each choice would take their family down an entirely different path. He lost over ten pounds in the process because he was so worried he couldn’t eat. My word to both of them was this passage: if you need wisdom, ask for it and God will give it to you.
Her response was to say, “I guess we haven’t prayed about it.” How easy it is to name the name of Jesus, but yet not apply Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your steps.” The husband’s response when I shared the James 1 verses with him was interesting. He shook his head like he was smacked by the verse and asked, “would you say that again?” It seemed like such a different idea to him to think that if he needed wisdom to simply ask God and He’ll give it to you.
James tells us that God gives wisdom generously to those who ask. That’s a great promise. When he declares that God will give us wisdom to all without reproach, that means that God doesn’t find fault, he won’t rebuke or criticize us. I hate telling someone about something that happened or is happening and they jump in with criticism that starts with, “You should have…” or “Why didn’t you…” God promises that He will give us His wisdom generously and He won’t tell us how stupid we are for getting into that jam in the first place.
James also gives us some conditions to our asking for wisdom. We are to ask in faith, without doubting that God is listening to us, that He cares, or that He can actually do something about our situation. It’s like bringing an umbrella to a prayer meeting calling out for rain. We need to come to God believing that He can do anything, without ‘hedging our bets.’ That indicates that we bet on both sides just in case God doesn’t come through.
James calls that double minded faith, saying that such a person will not receive anything from the Lord and even calls them ‘unstable.’ Having a half-hearted or not-all-in faith sounds like that in God’s eyes it doesn’t amount to much. James 1:7 also tells us that such a person will not receive anything from the Lord.
So when you need wisdom, ask God for it. He gives it generously to anyone who asks, without criticizing or casting blame. But ask in faith, being all-in when it comes to trusting God. To my co-worker, stop trying to figure things out on your own. You say you believe in God, so now it’s time to trust Him, do things His way, and place your life in His hands. When you do, ‘you’re in good hands,’ as the All State commercial rings out.