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.
You need wisdom every day. You need wisdom in dating, communication, marriage, parenting, finances, and conflict. You make decisions every day. How you react to your family, what you say to others, what you don’t say, how you spend your money, how you handle an offense, and in some cases how you handle a crisis. You need wisdom every day.
With that said let’s look at James 1:2, “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).
Before we get into some reasons why you need wisdom, let’s examine the first four words of verse 5, “If you need wisdom….”
- The word “if” (ei) in the phrase “If you need wisdom” is better understood as “Since you need wisdom.” The first step toward gaining wisdom is the knowledge that you need it. You realize this is a fact of life. This “if” by James is not one of doubt, but of certainty. It would be like me saying to someone whose marriage is in trouble, “If you need to work on your marriage then you need….” The “if” is not questioning the need, it assumes the need.
- James goes on to say if “you” need wisdom. That “you” means you. There are no exceptions to this statement. Whether you are a new believer or a mature believer, whether you are a leader of one or a leader of many, or whether you are single or married with children, you need wisdom. The point is, you don’t have it together as well as you think you do. You will always need wisdom as you go through life’s many hurdles, changes, and storms. This is personal, so make it personal.
- The Greek word for “need” (leipo) means to be destitute, wanting, or defective. If we are defective in wisdom, we will not know how to handle problems when they arise. For example, when our old washing machine cleaned its last load, I went to get a new one. I brought it home, opened the box, read the instructions, and installed it. Easy. Turned it on and ran an empty cycle through it to make sure there were no leaks and everything worked well. The machine did everything but agitate. It almost worked. It almost fulfilled its purpose. Something was wrong with the wiring making it defective and was unable to function properly. That’s what happens when you lack wisdom, you are unable to function the way God designed you in the midst of your trial. Your thinking (wiring) is defective so your actions and reactions are defective. Wisdom will help you to be ready, effective, and productive. In other words, you “need” wisdom in your life.
- The word “wisdom” means the ability to perceive the true nature of a situation and to implement the will of God in that situation. Wisdom is the practical application of God’s truth to a specific situation. Wisdom is knowing what God wants you to do and then doing it. Wisdom is the combination of knowledge, understanding, and righteousness.
James is saying that when you go through problems (vs. 2-4), you need to ask God for wisdom (v.5). It’s okay to ask God for strength, grace, patience, or even deliverance. But what you really need is wisdom! Here is why.
You need wisdom to get you where God wants you to go.
Number one, you need wisdom to GO where God wants you to GO. Almost everyone I know travels by car. They use that vehicle to get to work, school, church, go shopping, or go on a vacation. Unless you live close enough to walk, you arrived here in a car, truck, or bus. Maybe some of you wish you could have snapped your fingers and be here, but you had to get up, walk out of the house, go to the car, open the door, get in, turn it on, and drive it. Wisdom is the same way. It’s your vehicle to the kind of life God wants you to have. It’s the vehicle that God uses to get you to being a loving spouse, to becoming a godly friend, and to arrive at being a person whose inner strength can withstand even the most horrific trials.
You might think your greatest need is financial stability, physical health, new friends, more help, more energy, or more control. Your greatest need is wisdom! You need wisdom on how to get financial stability, to live a healthier life, and to be a friend and find a friend. You need wisdom on how to live single for God, to love your spouse, train your children, forgive that evil person, and to serve God where it counts. Wisdom is the single, greatest, primary need of your life. That’s not my rating of wisdom, that’s God’s. God’s Word says in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the most important thing; so get wisdom. If it costs everything you have, get understanding” (NCV). Did you see that? Wisdom is the most important thing. Wisdom is supreme. God places such an incredible high value on it that if it were possible to buy wisdom, He recommends that you sell everything you have and buy it.
Proverbs 2 is about the benefits of wisdom. Listen to one of the benefits in verse 9, “Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go” (NLT). Which way do I go? Do go to this school or that school? Do I marry this person or wait? Do I take this job or that job? Wisdom gives you the understanding and insight of which way to go. You need wisdom to go where God wants you to go.
You need wisdom to experience what God wants you to experience
Number two, you need wisdom to EXPERIENCE what God wants you to EXPERIENCE. God wants you to experience the abundant life He offers (John 10:10). Because of your relationship with Christ, you have access to this abundant life and the key is wisdom. Proverbs 24:3-6, “A house is built by wisdom [a life, a business, a career, a marriage, a relationship, etc.] and becomes strong through good sense. 4 Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables [like love, joy, peace, hope, patience, forgiveness, etc.]. 5 The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger. 6 So don’t go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers” (NLT). God wants you to experience a life that is strong, filled with precious things, and full of victory. That kind of life is built by wisdom.
This same truth is echoed in Proverbs 24:13-14, “My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. 14 In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short” (NLT). Everyone wants a bright future and God wants to give it to you, but it comes through wisdom. You need wisdom to experience what God wants you to experience.
You need wisdom to heal what God wants you to heal
Number three, you need wisdom to HEAL what God wants you to HEAL. You have an opportunity to bring hope, motivation, and inspiration into the lives of many. There are people in your life who have been hurt by the words of others. Proverbs 12:18 says, “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing” (NLT). You have people in your life who are wounded by the remarks of others. They are emotionally cut by sarcasm, insults, gossip, slander, lies, undeserved criticism, and condemning judgements aimed at hurting them. On the other hand, your words of wisdom can bring healing, comfort, and restoration to those who have been damaged by the words of others. There are people in your life that God wants you to be a part of their healing. Wisdom wants to speak words that build up, encourage, bless, and strengthen. Wisdom decides to use the mouth for restoration and revitalization. You need wisdom to heal what God wants you to heal.
You need wisdom to stop what God wants you to stop
Number four, you need wisdom to STOP what God wants you to STOP. Wisdom gives you the power to stop a mole hill of a problem from becoming a mountain of disaster. Proverbs 29:8 says, “Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but the wise will calm anger” (NLT). Wisdom stills the storm in a marriage. Wisdom quietens the situation before it gets out of hand. Throughout your life you will find yourself in situations where anger, frustration, and irritation are high but you are prepared because you have brought wisdom into the room. At that moment, God will use you to stop what needs to be stopped.
You need wisdom to seize what God wants you to seize
Number five, you need wisdom to SEIZE what God wants you to SEIZE. You have opportunities every day. When the window of opportunity opens, don’t pull the shade. Go for it.
Ephesians 5:15-16 makes this clear, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days” (NLT). Notice the close connection between wisdom and seizing the moment with others. There are a lot of bad things happening in your world, but you can make the most of every opportunity by making good things happen. You can love somebody, rejoice with them, help them carry a burden, bless them financially, give them Godly advice, and be an example for them to follow. You need wisdom to seize what God wants you to seize.
To reinforce this truth Colossians 4:5 says, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity” (NLT). To “live wisely” means you are applying Biblical principles of forgiveness, grace, humility, and mercy in your life with people who are not followers of Jesus. Living wisely is choosing to be like Jesus at work, school, and in your family. You’ve decided to bring love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness into the room. Those are the moments God wants you to seize. You will need wisdom to seize what God wants you to seize. Your big opportunity to make the most of your opportunity is right now.
Thomas Edison was right when he said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” It’s not always easy to live wisely in an evil world, nor is it easy to live wisely among those who don’t believe. You can do it. God has given you His Spirit to strengthen you, His Word to guide you, and His people to encourage you. You need wisdom to seize what God wants you to seize.
You need wisdom to know better what God wants you to know better
Number eight, you need wisdom to KNOW what God wants you to KNOW. How well do you know God? I mean really know Him, beyond the facts. You might be able to quote scripture about God and say things like “God is love.” Yet, are you experiencing a loving God on a daily basis? In Ephesians 1:17 Paul is sharing what he has been praying about regarding their spiritual growth and says that he has been “asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God” (v.17, NLT). Wisdom is crucial to you truly knowing God on a deeper level. You need wisdom to know better what God wants you to know better. He wants you to know Him better… that will take wisdom!
No matter who you are you need wisdom. Are you going through a difficult time right now? Then you need wisdom. Are you having to make some hard decisions about a relationship? A job? A child? A spouse? Then you need wisdom.
While in the middle of the storm, walking through your valley, and while facing your trials and troubles you need wisdom. You need wisdom to…
- To get to go where your God wants you to go.
- To experience what God wants you to experience.
- To heal what God wants you to heal.
- To stop what God wants you to stop.
- To seize what God wants you to seize.
- To know what God wants you to know.