If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:5

 

One of the most common jokes in our society involves men and asking for directions. The reason that it is so common and also the reason that it is so funny is that almost everyone can relate an actual event when one of us men managed to get hopelessly lost while we were literally surrounded by potential direction givers. Every teacher and every seminar leader knows that they will need to implore their audiences to ask questions, it doesn’t matter whether the listener’s grade depends on the understanding or whether they have paid handsomely for the knowledge. We people are arrogantly stubborn, and this is especially true when our egos are on the line.

 

When James says, “If”, he is posing a rhetorical question, for there is no person who does not lack wisdom. Wisdom, the very essence of wisdom, starts with God, and it resides with God. This understanding of how to live life, these life-success skills, are not held tightly; for, the Lord tells us that He desires with his parent’s heart to share them totally. Yet, God does not waste wisdom on deaf ears. He wants us to realize our need, to focus our request, and to ask Him specifically for the skills and the understanding that we require. This is where the relationship with our Lord is very special, for He not only possesses all the wisdom that we need, but, unlike an encyclopedia, Wikipedia, or even a really good How-To-Do-It book, God will enter into life with us. When we seek wisdom from God, we get a partner in the implementation of what we learn. We also get all of the updates, add-ons, new versions and enhancements. We are in a relationship with the One who will make every twist and turn in life work out for our good.

 

Back to human nature. If we consider the benefit that we derive from asking God for the wisdom that we all need to live well each day, why don’t we do it, why don’t we consistently and passionately pursue His wisdom throughout every day? The answer is probably the same as the reasons that we don’t ask for directions or pose other needed questions, we are stubborn and our egos are both over sized and very fragile. This is why James directs us to two of God’s attributes. He is a very generous giver, and He never tells us that our requests are dumb or silly. In fact, God’s heart is warmed, He is delighted, by our turning to Him; for, when we realize our need for wisdom, we are not showing weakness; rather, we are demonstrating maturity.

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

James 3: 13

 

Too often wisdom is presented with an assertiveness and an air of superiority that does very little to encourage those who are on its receiving end. People who are wise in this manner often seem to have a greater interest in how good they look rather than a desire to build up and to strengthen the understanding of those around them. There is simply too much self in this worldly form of wisdom, too much emphasis on personal gain and on winning a contest of achieved superiority. The way that a person would answer the question above, that is if a person who is self-important can also be self-aware, is very telling concerning the type and source of that person’s wisdom.

 

God’s wisdom is strong but never overbearing; it is all encompassing but not smothering; it is absolute but not authoritarian. As God demonstrates to us through his interaction with people and as Jesus has shown us through his life among us, wisdom and understanding are connected attributes. They exist in a form of natural balance that only God and His perfected creation can achieve completely.

 

However, the Lord does wish for us to live wisely and to apply wisdom with the type of understanding that marks his children as Godly. Christ calls upon us to be wise lovers of people; showing Him to others through our gentle and understanding handling of them. This is what behaving well in the fullness of the Lord’s wisdom looks like. This is a practical life demonstration of living in the center of the will of God.