Today you should read: James 1:5-8
James 1:6-8 is one of those passages that I believe is frequently used out of context. When prayers seem unanswered or when something didn’t go how one thought it should go, a common response is, “Maybe I didn’t have enough faith.”
Or, maybe something like this is said: “I’ve prayed and prayed for a job, but I still don’t have a job so I must not have enough faith.” I just don’t think that is a proper use or interpretation of this passage.
In order to interpret vs. 6-8 correctly, verse 5 must come into play. And for verse 5 to be interpreted correctly, verses 2-4 must come into play as well. Verse 5 tells us that if a person lacks wisdom, he should ask God for wisdom and know that God will give that wisdom. Verses 2-4 give the context for a particular occasion in which wisdom can be sought from God, and in which one can count on that wisdom being given. That occasion is when one is encountering various trials and experiencing a testing of faith which produces endurance.
So, when we are encountering various trials and need wisdom from God, verse 5 tells us that we can ask God for wisdom amidst the trials and KNOW that He gives wisdom generously. The first part of verse 6 tells us that we can ask for wisdom in faith with absolute confidence that He WILL give us wisdom for the trial when we ask for it. The second part of verse 6 and also verses 7-8 tell us that if we doubt that God will give us wisdom for the trials, we’ll be tossed around like the surf of the sea and shouldn’t really expect God to give us the wisdom.
What’s the big deal? Well, this passage isn’t about whether or not God answers your prayers based upon how much faith you have. I mean, that would discount Jesus’ whole “faith the size of a mustard seed” analogy, wouldn’t it? Instead, this passage is an exhortation to seek God for wisdom during your trial and know with full confidence that He will give you the wisdom you need for the situation, “so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (vs. 4)
If we don’t trust Him for wisdom, the only other option is to just try to deal with it on our own. And I think most of us already know what that sea sick feeling is like, getting tossed about like the surf in the wind.
Posted by: Rich Duffield