Read His Words Before Ours!
If you could be granted one wish,
for what would you ask?
King Solomon was given such an opportunity.
He encountered God in a dream where the Lord asks, “What should I give you?”
We don’t know if Solomon pondered this for some time, or if he just came out with it, but we know he asked God for wisdom. Of all the things Solomon could have requested, he asked for wisdom: something intangible and internal versus a thing of earthly value and external form.
The Lord granted his humble (and wise!) request and Solomon went on to wisely rule God’s people while increasing in wealth and fame, he then penned Proverbs, taking truths given him by the grace gift of God and making them available to everyone. In the opening chapter of Proverbs, Solomon directs us to both the Source of wisdom and the path on which to find it: “the fear of the Lord.”
God is the Source of wisdom;
fearing Him is the path on which we find it.
Fearing God can be a biblical concept with much confusion surrounding it. I appreciate the way R.C. Sproul draws from Martin Luther’s explanation of biblical fear of God when he quotes Luther:
[The one who fears God] has a fear or an anxiety of offending the one he loves, not because he’s afraid of torture or even of punishment, but rather because he’s afraid of displeasing the one who is, in that child’s world, the source of security and love.
Fear of God is a grasp of both God’s love AND His power that informs the kind of respectful, awe-filled fear we are to hold for Him. This posture toward God is the starting line on the path of wisdom.
The book of James, which we will be studying for the next several weeks, fills in the proverbial skeleton Solomon sketched for us on what wisdom from God looks like in the everyday life of the believer.
In the first chapter, James describes how the quest for wisdom begins by asking for it, just like Solomon did. And, just as God gave to Solomon, so He will give wisdom to us.
Only here in James, God provides qualifiers on how He will give wisdom: generously and without finding fault to the one who asks in faith, without doubting. (James 1:5)
If you’re anything like me, you are pumped when you read God’s promise to give you wisdom generously, but nearly immediately sink, crestfallen, when immediately following, you read how the one asking must not waver in faith.
I tend to expect the worst while hoping for the best with fingers crossed for extra, superstitious good measure. Not exactly the poster-child for God honoring faith.
I think part of my finger crossing comes from my own double mindedness as James references in verse 8. I have divided loyalties. God’s wisdom vs mine.
You see, the goal of the world’s wisdom is to avoid pain and be promised prosperity.
The goal of God’s wisdom is a steadfast abiding with Him no matter what our lot holds.
When James exhorts wisdom seekers not to be “double-minded,” he is telling us not to vacillate between the world’s wisdom and God’s wisdom.
Later in the book of James, we will see how peace accompanies God’s wisdom.
One of the qualities of a peace-maker, something God calls all His children to be, is wisdom. The two work in tandem.
Many know James to be a book of “to-do’s.” If that’s the case, I make the case that here in the first 18 verses, he is essentially saying,
“In all that you do, do wisely that which promotes peace.
And, as you seek to apply God’s wisdom to pursue peace,
it is going to take you through trials, in which you’re going to need a
whole lot of endurance!”
If like Solomon, I was given the opportunity to ask for anything from God, I must admit my default is asking for a pain free life.
My divided loyalties are showing….
I ask God, but I move forward shakily NOT because God has withheld wisdom, but because
I don’t always want the wisdom HE supplies.
Because God’s wisdom, while promoting peace, does NOT always promote a pain free life.
And I must decide….
Do I really want to follow Jesus?
Do I want my comfort more than I want to look at the cross and remember why walking in the fear of God, the beginning of wisdom, is worth it every time?
More often, I want my ease more than I want God to be glorified.
I want success as the world defines it, not a steadfast spirit.
I want escape from trial, not endurance within it.
As we delve deeper into the book of James,
I pray our minds will be renewed and our hearts transformed
to see the lasting beauty and goodness of pursuing wisdom that comes from God.
I’m praying His Spirit will gently, yet definitively, reveal where and how we are being double minded, holding onto our divided loyalties.
These divisions that steal life despite their promise of comfort, peace and ease.
Only one can give those gifts.
Do we really want to follow Him?
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!