James 1:2-8 - Asking for Wisdom

Many Christians consider James 1:2-8 a promise of wisdom for all those who ask, in the same way Solomon asked for wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:8-12). But to understand these verses this way is to misunderstand the context and the point that James is making. James states that we should consider it pure JOY when we face trials. When James wrote this, Christians were being greatly persecuted and many were martyred (see for example Acts 7:57-8:3), so why should we consider trials pure JOY? The answer is given in the next 2 verses (vv. 3-4) "because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." Trials make our faith stronger, and ultimately make us more mature and complete. However, it is often very difficult to see this when we are enduring great suffering. This is precisely why James assures us that if we do not understand why we are suffering and how this may benefit us, then we can ask God to give us wisdom so that we may understand. In this context, "wisdom" refers to the proper perspective (ie. God's perspective) on the situation in which we find ourselves. Seeing things from God's perspective enables us to see the end from the beginning - the 'big picture'. We can see how we will triumph in the end through the power of God. Having said that, James warns that when we start to see things from God's perspective we should believe what we see and not doubt. A person who says they have faith in God, yet doubts God's ability, power and plan, are in essence puting their faith in both God AND worldly wisdom. Such a person is truly double-minded and they should not expect to receive ANYTHING from God!

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