Need Wisdom? Ask God, Then Ask Others
James 1:5-8 makes it very clear that the wisdom we need to endure the trials of our lives comes from God. Moreover, the only requirement for gaining this wisdom is asking for it. This is a glorious truth! It gives us both the motivation to pray for wisdom when we need it, and great confidence that God will indeed give us the wisdom that we ask for. What James does not address in this passage, however, is how exactly God will give us the wisdom that we ask for.
Many of us will automatically (thanks to our individualistic culture) read what James says in a very individualistic way. We assume that God will give us the wisdom we ask for in a direct, one-on-one, manner, perhaps as we read our Bible and pray in solitude. However, while God certainly does give us wisdom as we search the Scriptures, the Scriptures themselves indicate that God gives wisdom through other channels as well. The book of Proverbs, for example, repeatedly emphasizes the importance of seeking and receving counsel from others in order to make wise decisions (Proverbs 11:14; 13:10; 19:20; 24:6). Further, Proverbs teaches that we can also gain wisdom for living by contemplating how God has designed the natural world (Proverbs 6:6-10; 30). More could be said here, but the point is simply that gaining wisdom is often a process that involves other people, which implies that it may take a great deal of time and effort on our part (as we seek out counsel, weigh various opinions, etc).
God truly is the one who gives wisdom, but James is not teaching us that God will give us wisdom only through Bible reading and meditation, or that the wisdom he gives will come immediately or without effort on our part. God uses various means as he makes good on his promise to give us the wisdom that we need. What should we do then when we need wisdom? Pray. Ask God. But then go and ask others.
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