If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
— James 1:5
When our sons were younger, I often asked them to take on certain chores or responsibilities that they didn’t really want to do. Nonetheless, I expected them to obey me. However, I was never offended if they asked me why I wanted them to do those things.
Whether or not I could answer my sons to their satisfaction — or whether or not they were sufficiently experienced in life to understand the reason behind my request — I still expected them to trust me enough to obey what I’d asked of them. They knew that I loved them and that I had more years of experience than they did, and that knowledge warranted their complete trust in me. My children understood as they were growing up that I’d only demand of them what I knew was ultimately good for them. Their close relationship with me caused them to know that they could trust me implicitly, even when they didn’t understand what I was telling them.
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Likewise, God is never offended when you ask Him for an explanation. You may not understand His answer; you may not like it; or you may not be mature enough to understand it. But as your Father, He is not offended by your asking for clarification. This is why James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God….”
The word “if ” assumes that there are times when you need an answer from God. The word “lacks” is a form of the Greek word leipo and describes a deficiency. In the Old Testament Septuagint, it describes possessing something only in a measure — which, of course, means you were lacking the rest. Maybe you possessed a little bit of something, but it was just a remnant of what you really needed.
Later this word leipo came to depict a deficit, insufficiency, shortage, or undersupply. As used in James 1:5, it meant to be without, to have want of, to be in need of, to be lacking, to be short of, to be low on, to not have enough of, or something that exists in an insufficient amount. All of these meanings correctly convey the idea in the Greek text. But for our purposes, we will say it could be interpreted, “If you are short on wisdom…” or “If you find yourself to be lacking wisdom.…”
But what did James mean by “wisdom”? The word “wisdom” is a form of the Greek word sophos, which describes special insight or special understanding. Hence, this verse could be interpreted, “If anyone among you lacks special understanding [regarding an issue].…” This word denoted special insight and understanding that could be worked out in real-life practice. It was an answer, an insight, or an enlightenment that had some type of practical application. Thus, the verse could be interpreted to mean: “If any of you are short on knowing what to do…”; “If any one of you is experiencing a deficit regarding what action to take…”; or “If any one of you is in need of special answers regarding what to do.…”
Next, James told us what to do. He wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask.…” The word “ask” is from the Greek word aiteo, a word that primarily means to be adamant in requesting and demanding assistance to meet tangible needs, such as food, shelter, money, and so forth. Additionally, it expresses the idea that one can possess a full expectation to receive what has been firmly requested.
This means you shouldn’t go to God only for spiritual blessings. The use of the word aiteo tells us that most questions about which you seek His wisdom will involve practical answers as well as spiritual — pertaining to tangible needs such as food, shelter, money, etc.
But God gives us one condition that we must fulfill before He will answer our petitions for wisdom. Verse 5 continues, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.…” The word “of ” in Greek is para, which means close, side by side, or alongside. As used in this verse, this word provides the condition we must meet in order for God to answer us. To qualify for God’s answer, we must be in a close, side-by-side position with Him.
God our Father truly desires to clearly and abundantly answer our questions. He will not refrain from answering us — as long as we get in the right position to ask Him. You see, God doesn’t want to just answer our request for wisdom. He wants us to come alongside Him, close to His heart. In that position, He will not only answer us, but He will embrace us, cleanse us, and change us.
Hence, the Father first beckons us to draw as near to Him as possible. Then once we are in that close, side-by-side position, God opens His hand to show us the wisdom we lack and are seeking to gain.
Think of it! You are just a prayer away from assuming that close, side-by-side position with God!
With these thoughts in mind, we can read this verse as follows:
“If you are short on answers you need, ask God to give you those answers. But the one request He makes first before He will provide the answers you are asking Him for is that you come alongside Him….”
Tomorrow I will show you what God promises will happen when you put yourself in that close, side-by-side position alongside Him. But for today, I want you to see the point that if you are experiencing a shortfall of wisdom, God invites you to ask Him for insight. Your asking for an explanation does not offend God. In fact, in James 1:5, He encourages you to ask!
When God answers, you may not enjoy what He tells you or you may not be mature enough to truly understand it, but one thing is clear: He wants you to ask for clarification if you need it. So draw near to the Lord, and ask Him for the wisdom you lack. He is utterly faithful to His promises — and He promises that He will give you what you ask for, liberally and without reproach!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, You said if any man lacks wisdom, he is to ask of You, and wisdom will be granted liberally. I thank You for Your willingness to give me answers, understanding, and clarification about my life and the situations I am facing right now. If I don’t enjoy the answer or have the maturity to completely understand, I ask You for the grace to obey You regardless, as I know that You only have the best in mind for me and my family.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that God is not offended by my questions for explanation and clarification. He invites me – and even encourages me – to seek Him for answers. Whenever I am in need of understanding about what He is asking me to do. I declare that I know the Voice of the Holy Spirit and that He will not led me astray or misguide me. I can trust what He tells me, even if I don’t fully understand it. God has the best in mind for me; so regardless of how He answers, I will accept it and trust Him to be Lord and God of my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of a time that you lacked wisdom about a specific issue, and when you asked God for an explanation, He answered you? Or can you think of a time that He answered you, but you didn’t like the answer or weren’t mature enough to understand it?
- What issues in your life are you facing right now in which you really need some clarification or guidance from the Lord? Have you asked Him for wisdom, and do you firmly believe you’re going to receive what you asked of Him?
- If drawing near to the Lord is His condition you must meet before He answers you, can you say that you meet His requirement? Are you staying close to His heart, or are you living far from the heart of God?