These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the book of James. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
James 1:2-5, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you” (NLT). God wants to give you wisdom. He is generous with it. He wants you to know what to do in your situation. However, God does not give wisdom in a vacuum. Wisdom does not magically show up in your brain. The way God gives you wisdom is by telling you where to go get it, but its up to you to go get it.
Look at Proverbs 2:2-6 which says, “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. 3 Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. 4 Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. 5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (NLT). Search for wisdom. Through the searching you find your answer. As you search for wisdom God gives you wisdom. I’m going to show you where you can find the wisdom of God and how God gives you the wisdom you need.
God gives you wisdom through His Word
Number one, God gives you wisdom through the Bible. The Bible, whether you have a paper copy or an electronic copy, was given to you to give you wisdom. If you want wisdom, then you need to get into God’s Word. Listen carefully to Psalm 19:7, “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (NLT). When the Word of God is read right there is something reviving about it, something refreshing about it that encourages your soul like water to a very thirsty man. God’s Word has the power to make you wise. To give you insight in decisions you need to make about your finances, your health, your career, and your relationships. Even though you may feel like you are a simple person in the middle of a complex situation, God’s Word will make you wise.
Listen to Proverbs 1:1-3, “These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. 2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. 3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair” (NLT). The purpose of Proverbs, God’s Word, is to teach people wisdom. That wisdom shows up in a disciplined life not one driven by whims or impulses. That wisdom reveals itself when you make decisions that are right, just, and fair in your relationships.
When you are asking God for wisdom, He will give you the wisdom you need through His Word. Let me give you some examples.
- You are asking God for wisdom when it comes to your children. God’s Word says in Ephesians 6:4, “Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (NLT). Any wisdom there for you as a parent?
- You are asking God for wisdom in how to deal with your spouse. Ephesians 5:33 says, “Each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (NLT). Love your wife, respect your husband. Whether she deserves it or not, love her in the way you talk to her or about her, love her when she is being grumpy, and love her when she is being cold. Any wisdom there? Wife, whether he deserves it or not, respect him by the way you talk to him or talk about him, or look at him. Any wisdom there for you as a spouse?
- You are asking God for wisdom when it comes to your finances. Deuteronomy 14:23 says, “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives” (LB). Then Proverbs 21:20 says, “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” (LB). Any wisdom there about what to do with your money?
- You are asking God for wisdom as you get older and what is it that you to be focusing on in your old age. Listen carefully to Titus 2, “Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good” (vs. 2-3, NLT). Any wisdom there for us who are growing older?
The point is this, God’s Word gives us incredible wisdom on the things that matter. When you are asking for wisdom you must get into God’s Word regarding the subject you are asking wisdom for. As you are asking God for wisdom remember to “search for [wisdom] as you would for silver; seek [wisdom] like hidden treasures” (Proverbs 2:4, NLT). This means sit down, open the Bible, read and study what God has to say about what you are asking about. Ask for wisdom and God will give it to you through His Word.
God gives wisdom through wise friends
Number two, God gives wisdom through wise friends. Your friends, the people you hang out with and listen to and talk to are influencing your level of wisdom or foolishness. Listen to what God’s Word says about this in Proverbs 13:20, “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble” (NLT). Your choice of friends is critical because they have the power to influence how you live.
Look at Proverbs 10:13, “Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding, but those lacking sense will be beaten with a rod” (NLT). You want to hang out and listen to those who have a good understanding of life, of marriage, of finances, of work, of school, and of God. Whenever you are having conversations with others about what’s going on in your life, in their life, or in the world you want to hear from those who have understanding and wisdom. You don’t need people speaking nonsense into your life when you are seeking God’s wisdom.
Look at Proverbs 15:31 which says, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise” (NLT). We don’t like for people to tell us the truth about ourselves if the truth is going to hurt our feelings and we don’t like to tell others the truth if we think it will hurt their feelings. But the reality is, “constructive criticism” always hurts and is never fun, but if you are “searching for wisdom like it’s a hidden treasure” then you will need to “listen to constructive criticism” about your beliefs, about your behavior, or about your attitude from people who you trust will give you a real and honest answer.
When you are asking for wisdom God is going to give you the wisdom you need through His Word and through wise friends.
God gives wisdom through wise counsel
Number three, God gives wisdom through wise counsel. Wise counsel can come from your wise friends, but it can also come from wise experts. Professionals who do what you need for a living. They are experts at financial management, professionals at marriage counseling, specialists at how to age well, or authorities on the subject you are asking God for wisdom about.
Colossians 3:16 puts it this way, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives” (NLT). There are some people that God has gifted in teaching and counseling and they have a lot of wisdom that you can read their books, listen to them online, or go to their seminars. Let them teach you. Let them counsel you.
Proverbs 15:22 says it this way, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success” (NLT). Go get advice from others. Here what godly experts have to say about what you are asking God’s wisdom for.
Proverbs 12:15, “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others” (NLT). You know what a fool does? He thinks he has heard from God and goes out does what he thinks God wants him to do, but he never really looked at what God’s Word said about it, never talked to his godly friends to see what they think, and never sought wise counsel from experts. You know why? Because he “thinks his own way is right” and he doesn’t need any one telling him what to do. That’s a fools approach to life.
Proverbs 13:10, “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise” (NLT). You are trying to work on things in your marriage, but you are doing it on your own. It’s not working and its leading to conflict because you think you know how to love your wife, but you don’t. You think you know how to respect your husband, but you don’t. You think you know how to deal with your parents, but you don’t. You think you know how to choose friends, but you don’t. You seem to argue with a lot of people and it’s because of your pride. “Pride leads to conflict” but “those who take advice are wise.” So take advice. Listen to others. Pay attention to what God is saying to you through your wise friends and wise counsel.
When you are asking God for wisdom He will give it to you. He will give you the wisdom you need through His Word, wise friends, and wise counsel. You will need to search for this wisdom like a hidden treasure. It’s buried in His Word and hidden in the hearts and minds of wise friends and wise counsel. Go get it.
God gives you wisdom through prayer
Number four, God gives you wisdom through prayer. James 1:5 tells us, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you” (NLT). I have saved this one for last, for a reason. Here is what some Christians do. They find themselves in a trial, trouble, or a problem. They are trying to deal with a difficult person, some bad news, or maybe a new opportunity is in front of them and they need to make a decision about. So they do the right thing by praying. They say something like, “God, I need your wisdom about this. I’m not sure what to do. I know what I would like to do, but in this case it may not be your will. So I need to know how to handle this person or which way to go….” So they prayed.
But here is where we make a mistake. We pray for wisdom, but do nothing else. We ask God to give us wisdom, but we don’t look for the wisdom. We end up doing whatever we feel like doing and on our limited knowledge. We ask God for wisdom but we don’t see what God’s Word has to really say about the subject, we don’t have serious conversations with our wise friends allowing them to ask us the tough questions and give us constructive criticism and we don’t seek out wise counsel from the experts.
When James says “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you” he is assuming you are going to “search for [wisdom] as you would for silver” and that you would “seek [for wisdom] like hidden treasures” (NLT).
Let’s finish by taking a look at this chart. How does God give us wisdom? Through His Word (What does the Bible say about it?), through wise friends (what do my wise friends say about it?), wise counsel (what do the wise experts say about it?), and prayer (what am I hearing from God about this?).
 God also gives wisdom through His creation (Proverbs 6:6-11).