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James 1:5-8 - Wisdom

James 1:5-8: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

In the very first paragraph of James, we see a quick succession from trials (V. 2) to maturity (V. 4) to wisdom (V. 5 -8).                                                                            


James, if you remember, is encouraging his readers to recognize that when they face trials of many/various kinds, it will be a lot easier to consider them joy if they think about those trials from a proper perspective. How we view or think about the trials will determine how we respond. The right perspective will help give way to the right response.


In verse 5, James reminds us that we do not have to deal with trials alone. In fact, wisdom is going to be needed if we are to think and respond properly about these trials, and he reminds us that wisdom is available. All we need to do is “ask God,” and God desires to “give generously” “to all” and “without finding fault.” This is the God of the universe saying to us, “I will impart My wisdom to you.” But it’s not automatic, James tells us. We must ask for it.


However, James adds, there is one condition on our part (v. 6): when we ask, we need to “believe and not doubt.” We need to ask in sincere faith, which is more than just intellectual knowledge of the existence of God. To believe here, according to James, is an expression of complete trust, it is an expression of complete devotion and confidence in the identity and nature of our God. It’s more than head knowledge…it’s heart knowledge. It includes surrendering to God’s provision, relying on His goodness, and expecting that He WILL hear and answer when we pray. Incidentally, this holds true even when life is not easy or doesn’t make sense.

We must not be “double-minded” or double-souled, according to the original connotation. We mustn’t waver back and forth between trusting God and trusting the world. When we are double-minded, we are not entirely convinced that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He promises to do. We must, instead, believe and trust, and KNOW, even when we don’t feel it, that God loves us, is with us, and wants the best for us.


But… if we DO ask through genuine faith, not only will we receive wisdom to help us view these trials properly, but we also gain wisdom that changes the way in which we respond. Wisdom, remember, is not the same as knowledge. Wisdom includes a practical element of living out what one believes. It includes the ability to take what you know to be true (based on knowledge, observation, and discernment) and apply it in a way that leads to Godly living. Through wisdom, we learn to see our trials and how to respond to our trials through a Godly perspective that aligns our will with His will.


God is always good, and God is always faithful; however, He doesn’t always give us the easy answer. When we are in a trial, we just want our circumstances fixed. But God, instead, calls us to draw near to Him. He wants us to trust Him to walk alongside us as the One who possesses all knowledge and an eternal perspective.

Reflection Questions:

What are some strategies Christians can use to fight doubt?

How can you resist becoming “a double-minded person, unstable in all your ways?”

In what areas of life do you need the kind of wisdom only God can give?

When was a time that God’s wisdom helped you get through a problem?

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