To whom is wisdom available?

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Referencing our focus verse [above], the answer seems to lie within the verse itself. Speaking to the believers scattered about, James says “if any of you…” From this we know believers can receive divine wisdom because James’ letter was addressed to them. James then instructs us to ask God. So, perhaps it is only to the believers who ask. Well, we know from one of our earlier questions that divine wisdom comes from God for various reasons and in various ways. Requesting it, however, does ensure availability. Next, James says God “gives generously to all.” You might jump on this and say God’s wisdom is then available to anyone, whether they believer or not, only for the asking. I’ve got three problems with such a thought. First, the word “all” modifies the “him” who is asking. “All” does not stand on its own in this sentence. My second problem is derived from the passage in Jn 14:13-14 where Jesus assures the believer that requests made “in his name” would be granted. Third, and most important, is to continue reading to Jas 1:6 and beyond for the full context.

Jas 1:6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind. This definitely places a bit of a restriction on availability. In fact, it clearly confirms and conforms to the first two issues.

When we ask God for something, we are communicating with Him. Prayer takes a lot of forms. Making requests is one of those forms. We are given plenty of instructions about how to pray. Jesus said to worship in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24). Jesus also proclaimed he was Truth (Jn14:6). Mt 6:7-8 forms a preamble to the Lord’s Prayer which tells us how to pray. These instructions conform perfectly to the instructions about worship, which is why I brought up the subject. To me, prayer is a form of worship. So, the instructions about worship would seem to also fit perfectly with prayer. My point with all this is to say, it isn’t just the asking, but asking and believing. If you’re asking with true faith you will be asking not for your own sake, but for the sake of the Lord that you receive His gift of wisdom. In fact, wisdom is only one of many things you can request from God. James merely focuses on wisdom so that the reader will be able to gain divine understanding of the Word. What else is of greater value except salvation itself?

James goes on to say, “gives generously to all without reproach.” Here “all” refers to all believers. Remember also that divine wisdom is a gift. When the request is made in true faith, God promises to answer such a request in the affirmative. In fact, we are promised a generous share.

The phrase “without reproach” implies God not only will say yes, but he wants us to make this request. He longs to provide us with divine wisdom, if only we will ask. Certainly, the act of physically making the request is not always required, but the only sure way to get the gift is to ask.

This post is an excerpt (Question 5.7) from my book Ask James one.

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About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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