Wisdom in Trials, Not a Free-For-All
Updated: May 6, 2022
James 1:5 is one of those verses often taken out of context. It says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
This verse is used to justify Christians asking God for guidance in all kinds of decision making. Only one problem with this, that’s not what this verse is saying! In fact, nowhere in the N.T. will you find a passage instructing believers to ask God for guidance in decision making.
How do we know James 1:5 is not about asking God for guidance in decision making? Context, context, context!
Wisdom refers to living well before God. It is the ability to make good godly judgments in any and every situation. However, in James 1:1-12, the context very clearly refers to trials. The verse instructs those believers who are not responding well to a trial to ask for God’s help to make sense of the trial and respond well. Zane Hodges (James, pp.21-22) summed it up well:
“…we can expect God to answer our prayer for wisdom through the very trial itself, as we endure it until God’s perfect work in us is done. [1:4]…an appropriate prayer might be: “Father, help me to gain from this trial the wisdom You want me to have.”