“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:4-5 (ESV)
Decision making is difficult. Mankind doesn’t have omniscience or omnipresence; we don’t know all things and we are not in all places. Therefore, our knowledge is limited. We always have to make decisions without full knowledge of what the next five minutes holds, much less the next 5 years.
Furthermore, for Christians who want to honor God and obey him we strive to make decisions based on the truth of God’s Word. Yet, the Bible doesn’t speak directly to most decisions we make in our life. Which house should we buy? Should I get a new car? Should I change jobs? How many children should we have? Of course, the Bible does give us principles that relate to all of these decisions. In a very real sense, every decision is a spiritual decision. But, there is no chapter and verse you can turn to and expect to find the address of the home you’re supposed to buy.
As a result, there are a lot of unhealthy ways christians try to make decisions. Some may think they need to hear an audible voice from God. Others may try to flip through the Bible and land on a random passage, then interpret it in a way that relates to their current dilemma. Some ask God for a sign that will point them in the right direction. But, we must hold these misguided processes up against a passage like James 1:5.
When we lack wisdom and find ourselves unable to discern what we should do, God tells us to ask him for wisdom. Think about this for a moment. When we need insight about a decision, James 1:5 doesn’t tell us how to read the tea leaves or how to hear an audible voice from God. This verse doesn’t tell us to look for secret codes in the Bible or what signs we ought to look for. When we face difficult decisions, God commands us in James 1:5 to ask him for wisdom. Therefore, instead of searching for signs, we make decisions by walking with Christ and pleading for wisdom. We have to trust God’s promise that he will give us the very wisdom we need as we weigh our options.
Read this passage again. Verse 5 says that he will give generously to all without reproach. If we ask God for money, he has not promised to give it to us. If we ask God for long life, he has not made a commitment to give it to us. But, if we ask for wisdom, he has promised us that he will give it generously and without hesitation. That’s an amazing promise! Unfortunately, we often don’t trust Him for it. We either look for signs or we trust our own wisdom. God, however, has different expectations for us. He just wants us to ask him.
It’s also important that we see the connection James is making between needing wisdom and facing trials with joy because we know that God is at work in them. Left to our own understanding, we will never rejoice in the difficult days that we face. In our sin nature, we are more likely to grumble, complain, and become frustrated with God’s providence that allows suffering in our life. Therefore, James is letting us know that we need divine wisdom to see the hand of God at work in our lives for our good and the glory of his name!