Step Towards Transformation
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
6 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 by the wind.
7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Illustration: One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey So he invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off
Moral: Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!
James is addressing Christians who are relying on themselves and not really wholeheartedly seeking after God. He implores us to literally beg for wisdom because we are empty in of ourselves. If we do not seek wisdom, but remain in our own thinking, we will be un-chained like a small boat without an anchor in a storm, tossed and tumbled in the waves of stress and life.
We will be literally unstable mentally, relationally, and spiritually without our Lord’s direction!
Illustration Of Red Flags:
The house looked like a fairy tale come true. Though my friend had a nagging feeling about the owners, she ignored it and went to inspect the house. It was spacious and full of sunshine with a big tree in the front yard. She wanted it more than she had wanted anything in a very long time and she immediately made a deal to get it for a good price.
The nagging feeling continued, but the woman pushed aside her doubts and began moving in. Within a short time, she realized in horror she had made a terrible mistake. Several things in the house not only did not work, but, after many visits from various repair companies, she learned they could not be fixed. The owners had promised everything was in working order; surely they wouldn’t lie to her, would they? As time went on, she realized the owners had known about the problems, and had indeed lied to her.
It is always good to have a dream or a goal, but how often in work situations or in business dealings do we run past the red warning flags that something is amiss? How often do we sacrifice our character as our consciences scream “No!” in pursuit of our dream or goal? How often do we fix our eyes on the prize and ignore the red flags of what it will cost us to get there?
Looking back later, the woman realized all the red flags had been there warning that the people she was doing business with were not people of integrity. The wise thing to do would have been to walk away when the doubts came. Too many of her questions had been brushed aside, too many concerns treated as unimportant. But she wanted the house too badly, and she ignored every red flag that popped up in her pursuit in order to have it. She focused only on her goal. In the end, it turned out to be an expensive mistake.
Just as smoke warns us there is fire nearby and pain warns us there is illness in our bodies, the warning sign of a lack of integrity in others we are involved with is not something to be ignored. They are signs that if we ignore the warning, something worse will happen.
Can we have that relationship, get that job, make that big money deal or get what we want, without becoming someone else to have it? If the answer is no, we need to change our course. Otherwise, our course will end up changing us.
“Every time I’ve done something that doesn’t feel right, it’s ended up not being right.” – Mario Cuomo
Why do we need wisdom when we go through tests and trials?
Tests can be confusing. The question that always arises when we go through trials is ‘Why This Trials’? But it should be ‘How to RESPOND in OUR trials’?
The Greek word for wisdom is “sophia.” It doesn’t mean just “knowledge” but knowledge that is applied in practical, godly ways.
Biblical wisdom is the ability to see things from God’s perspective, and to apply knowledge in practical ways. For example: we don’t know how we should respond in our trials.
We ask: what is God doing?
These are practical questions – and that is what wisdom is; it is the ability to see things from God’s perspective and apply it in practical ways. This is what we need in our trials.
If you lack wisdom or I should say if you don’t lack wisdom[ because some people don’t think they do], the first step is to realize that you don’t have it and then to figure out where to get it.
Wisdom comes from God and His Word . So take time in reading and studying His Word
Illustration: A story is told of a hermit that died in his little shack in the mountains of Colorado. Distant relatives came from the city and searched the cabin for some sort of inheritance. They found cooking pots, a cracked three legged table, a kerosene lamp and a few other odds and ends. They could see no use for anything so they decided to leave.
A friend of the old man came by and asked if he could have anything that was left. They said it’s really no use to us, take everything. As they drove away the old man lifted up the table and pulled up the lose floor boards where the man had hid all the gold he had found in those mountains. The friend looked out the window as the car rode out of sight and said, “I sure wish they would have taken the time to get to know Him.”
That’s how it is with God. It takes time in reading and studying His Word and so few people ever spend their time wisely to get the wealth of wisdom God has for us.
Four Things To Know Regarding Wisdom:
1.Wisdom Required [NEEDED]—“If any of you lacks wisdom.” (v.5a) A person can be very smart and not be wise.
Intelligence is not the same as wisdom
Illustration Of Parachutes:
“There was a flight that had only four people on it – the pilot, a young boy scout, an elderly pastor and a scholarly looking gentleman. During the flight the pilot came back and said that they were experiencing engine difficulties and that the plane was going to crash. The good news was that they had parachutes, but the bad news was that there were only three. Explaining that he had to make a full report of the situation to the authorities he quickly slipped on the parachute and jumped. The scholarly gentleman stood up next and explained that he had studied at Oxford, Harvard, Yale and other such schools and that he was one of the most intelligent persons in the world. He said that the world needed his wisdom and great learning. So he grabbed a parachute and jumped. The pastor considered his age and the fact that he had lived a full life and told the boy that he should use the last parachute. The boy scout calmly said, “Don’t worry, we’ll both be okay.” The most intelligent person in the world just put on my backpack before he jumped.”
A person can also have worldly wisdom and have no spiritual wisdom. The principle behind this type of wisdom is Godly wisdom. Learning what God’s will is and what He wants to do in our lives. We all need Godly wisdom.
Illustration: I got a note from one of our men this week, who is going through a particular trial at work. He is seeking what God’s purpose for this trial might be. He asked: “How will this trial be resolved?
These are excellent questions, and the very questions that many of us should be asking in our trials, because there are different things God may be doing:
In many areas of life, realizing your need is the first step towards getting help. So it is with wisdom. The first thing you need to do is recognize that you do not have the wisdom you need, which should then drive you to ask God for it – which bring us to our next point:
2.Wisdom Requested [ASKED]—“let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach,” (v.5b) The word ask means to ask for something to be given.
Liberally means without bargaining. God says here you ask and I will give it. It also means God gives wisdom unconditionally and generously. God has no favorites. He will give wisdom to everyone and anyone who asks.
Illustration: Everything is not what it seems
There were two young ladies in their early 20’s. They had travelled from their home in Southern California down to Tijuana, Mexico to go Christmas shopping for the day. When they returned to their car, they noticed what looked like a little puppy, looked just like a little Chihuahua. It was squirming there in the gutter, and they could tell it was in a lot of pain.
Feeling sorry for it, they picked it up and put it in the trunk of their car. They were going to take it home and didn’t want the border patrol to see it. One of the girls took it into her apartment, gave it some milk, trying to nurse it back to health. She tried to feed it, but it wouldn’t eat anything. That night, she wrapped it in a blanket and put it in her bed with her all through the night, making sure it was okay.
The next morning, it was doing worse than ever. She rushed it to the emergency animal clinic, handed it to the veterinarian, and began to describe the symptoms. The doctor stopped her and said, “Where did you get this animal?” She thought she was in trouble for bringing it across the border, and she finally said, “Well, Doctor, my friend and I found this little Chihuahua in the gutter in Tijuana.” He said, “Young lady, this is not a Chihuahua. This is a Mexican river rat.”
Everything is not what it seems. You better consult with the Lord. You don’t want any rats living in your house. I’m asking you today to go to God for daily direction. You’re not going to make the best decisions if you’re not consulting with the Lord.
Proverbs 3:5 says: “do not lean on your own understanding” – instead, ask God!
Well, what does it mean to “ask of God”? How do you seek God’s wisdom? There are several ways:
3.Wisdom Received—“and it will be given to him.” (v.5c) It will be given. God gives wisdom to all who seek it.
NO! James says “He gives to ALL generously and without reproach”! This should give hope to every one of us here: whoever you are, YOU can ask for God’s wisdom for your situation, and be confident that He WILL give it to you.
4. Wisdom Refused—(v.6-8)
Billy Graham said, “All doubt comes from the Devil.” This is not belief or unbelief. Belief says YES, unbelief says NO. Doubt comes along and says YES one minute and NO the next.
God says ask in faith. Believe me and I’ll do it. Trust me and settle the fact that even though you can’t see me, I’m in your corner.
Illustration Of A Lawyer: I heard a story about a defense lawyer that was giving his closing argument. He was defending a man on trial for murder. However, they had never found the body of the missing man. The lawyer said, they have no body but I know where the man is. Any second now he’s going to walk through that door. A minute goes by and the lawyer said, actually I made up what I just said, but I noticed all of you men and women of the jury looked at the door, and that is reasonable doubt.
The jury went out and came back in 15 minutes with a guilty verdict. The lawyer spoke to some of them after the trial and said I don’t understand all of you looked at the door, you must have had some doubt. They said, Yes we all looked at the door, but your client didn’t.
Folks we don’t have to guess if God is for us, He said He was. We don’t have to wonder if He loves us He said He did. And when we can’t see what He’s doing He still is working for our good.
V.6a Asking in faith refers to being fully convinced that what God has promised he is able to perform. In particular, James is driving at asking in faith for wisdom, fully convinced that God will give us wisdom just as he has promised. This ought to be an obvious fact to us.
V 7 What is the point of asking without faith?
Allow me to illustrate this point: Why don’t you ask for a Ferrari for your birthday? The reason is that we do not think we will get one. If you do not think it is possible to receive what you are asking, why ask? This is basically what James is saying. If you don’t believe that God can accomplish the things he has promised, then why ask? What is the point of asking without faith?
V 8 Faith without works?
Double-minded faith (James 2:14-26) is not the wavering in one’s belief in God. Rather, double-minded faith is believing in God without performing the actions, or the “works,” that reflect that belief. James wanted his readers to know that faith means more than just belief in God. Every Christian should be aware that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). James challenges us to show tangible evidence of our beliefs: “Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (verse 18).
Belief is not enough, he says. “Even the demons believe-and tremble!” (James 2:19). It is much easier to tremble at the thought of God’s existence than it is to fear to disobey God.
The Essential Questions