These days people turn to many places looking for wisdom and guidance. Some people live on the self-help aisle at Barns and Nobles, others turn to astrology, psychic hotlines, and palm readers. But no matter how attractive these roads look like, in the end, they lead to a dead end. People walk away confused and with more questions than answers. That’s why finding the wisdom for life must begin with the Author of Life — not a self-help book. God designed life and gave us the instruction manual for life: the Bible. It offers wisdom for life and by applying God’s principles for living we will thrive. The book of James gives us these practical instructions:
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
The wisdom the James is referring to here is not a theoretical or abstract philosophy, but a God-given insight for life and an understanding that enables people to face the trials and come out victoriously. This wisdom is available in generous amounts to everyone who asks.
With the passage from James in mind, I’d like to suggest that there are three aspects that are necessary for receiving wisdom from God:
ONE. We must really believe that God possesses all wisdom. Believing this means more than accepting a creed, it means that we are absolutely convinced that God is the supreme authority on everything. And if we ever begin to doubt this reality, all we need to do is open our eyes and look around. God’s wisdom is displayed for us everywhere we look in creation — from the sun, the moon and stars, to the exactness of the earth’s rotation, to the way the seasons change, to the incredible detail of each living cell in the human body — the wisdom of God is displayed all around us. So, when we pray and ask God for wisdom, we need to be completely rooted in the reality that we’ve come to the origin of wisdom. God has the wisdom we need for anything and everything life throws our way.
TWO. We need to know that God is willing to share it with us in a tangible way. James tells us the nature of the way God gives wisdom; God “gives generously to all without finding fault…” God responds with generosity and graciousness. He gives without hesitation, like a dad responding to his child’s request for help. When my three-year-old son, Noah, needs something he says, “Daddy, I need help” and my natural response is to go to him. Similarly, our Heavenly Father responds to our requests for wisdom.
THREE. We must learn how God gives wisdom. Consider these three ways how God gives wisdom:
- Wisdom through a relationship with God. In Psalm 111:10 the psalmist reminds us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This fear has nothing to do with being panic-stricken, but everything to do with moving into a reverent relationship with God Almighty — a relationship which is characterized by our awestruck wonder of who He is. This is the birthplace of wisdom and the first step for how we can receive the wisdom God offers.
- Wisdom through God’s Word. Psalm 119:105 puts it like this, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Even though our lives may be as different as night and day, the Bible speaks to people across the board. No matter where we are, what we’re going through, God’s Word offers the insight every person needs conquer every difficulty and thrive in life. That’s why it’s paramount that we read it, meditate on it, and allow it to fill our inner being.
- Wisdom through other people. The people God plants in our life speak into our life. The council of a wise and trusted friend is worth more than gold. Proverbs 11:14 puts it like this, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” God will release wisdom when we collaborate with other godly men and women. Trials, tribulations, and temptations can be overcome when we look to and listen to those people God has planted into our life.
God has the wisdom we need for living life. He gives it generously and it is readily available.