Saturday, July 28, 2012


This year in SI, we are studying the book of James, which is one of my favorites!  Both Jeff and I have had the privilege of leading different days of the study with our short-term teams this summer, and it has been great to see the wheels turning as the Holy Spirit works in each of our hearts.

While there are MANY wonderful themes that James writes about (poverty and wealth, faith and deeds, taming the tongue, trials, etc.), one that keeps popping out to me is WISDOM.  In James 1 it says that God gives wisdom "generously to all without finding fault."  In the New Living it says to ask for wisdom "expecting an answer," and I love that because I seem to need a lot of wisdom.  I need wisdom in parenting, in marriage, in friendships, in cross-cultural interactions, in teaching, etc. etc.

As I've reflected on wisdom, a couple of questions have come to my mind.  One is: What IS wisdom?  How do I recognize wisdom?  And the other is: Why does God love to give wisdom so much?  I can't say that I have discovered all the answers to these questions, but I have found a few.

First of all, I was delighted to discover in James 3:17 a list of wisdom's characteristics.  "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."  Naturally, I had to ask myself, "How often do I evaluate my moment-by-moment decisions based on these things. . .?"  Not.often.enough.  The opposite of these things are impure, conflictive, inconsiderate, rebellious/non-yielding, judging, bad fruit, showing favoritism (prejudice, unfair), insincere.  These are the "world's wisdom," and I can recognize these things in the motivations of many decisions I've made.  But, I am inspired to use the positive characteristics as a filter for future decisions.

The other question that occurred to me about why God likes to give out wisdom doesn't have a specific verse attached to it, but more something that he's been showing me over time:  He wants me to be dependent on him.  Correction: I AM dependent on him and it's silly to ever think I'm not.  The Bible talks about God opposing the proud, but lifting the humble.  When I think I don't need wisdom because I already know everything, I am being prideful. . . and foolish.  When I admit that I have a need for wisdom (or anything else!), I am telling the truth about the way things are; I am not self-sufficient, I have not arrived, and I need God in my life.  He loves that!  

In our bible studies with the groups, we reflected on the fact that we come from a culture of independence and self-sufficiency and how contrary those things are to our dependence on God.  In fact, if we believe our culture's message about those things, it could make it difficult to ever realize that we need God for anything.  My tendency is to look out for, and depend on "Number 1."  But, I have seen men, women and children with nowhere to turn except God because of their desperate circumstances, and have recognized in them a richness of faith that I may never know.  While I am praying that my child will please eat her fruits and veggies, another mom I know is praying that her child will have the option to eat at all today.  Rather sobering.

So, Lord, give me WISDOM from heaven, please!  Show me how to live, how to depend on you, how to hear you when you speak, and how to recognize your voice!  Help me to filter my choices, words, and interactions with peace, mercy, consideration, and sincerity.  Please, because on my own I am nothing.