Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:2-5, emphasis mine)
We all need more wisdom in our lives and in verse 5, James is calling on us to ask for wisdom within the context of trials. He is telling us that when we are in the midst of difficult times and lack the wisdom we need, we should ask God for that wisdom.
It’s important to note that the Scriptural concept of wisdom is very different from our own. When we think of wisdom, we think of it in terms of knowing what to do, getting direction for our lives, or being able to discern between one choice or another. In the Bible wisdom was almost always moral. In other words, wisdom meant knowing God and His ways, and how to live in a way that pleased Him.
That’s the kind of wisdom James is talking about here.
Although James talks about how trials strengthen our faith and our character we all know that trials don’t always lead to spiritual growth. Suffering can lead to fear, despair, anger, and bitterness. Or what if having a great abundance of material wealth is your trial? Yes, that is a trial too! That sort of abundance can lead to greed, stinginess, and self-indulgence.
None of these responses is helpful for our sanctification.
This is why we need wisdom in trials. Not so that we can figure a way out, but so we can submit and honor God in the midst of them. We need wisdom so that trials lead us to be more like Jesus. We need wisdom in trials so that we do not sin against God.
The good news is that God wants us to have that wisdom. That’s why we are told to ask Him. He is a giving and generous God. James is confident that God will give us the wisdom we seek because of God’s character.
This word “generously” literally means single or simple. It is suggesting God’s unwavering, undivided intention. That means James is telling us to pray to a generous God who wants to answer our prayers because He fully intends to give us the wisdom we are asking for and will in no way despise us for asking.
In fact, James 1:5 can be literally translated as;
“Let him ask the giving God.”
What a great and glorious God we serve. There is no one like our God. He gives us the strength to honor Him in the midst of trials so that we can become more like His Son!