At first glance it seems a bit strange that James would call upon his readers to ask God for wisdom after he has just said they should consider themselves blessed and joyful during trials. What does wisdom have to do with our trials? Actually, the two have much to do with each other. It is heavenly wisdom that we need in order to bear up under the trials and hardships of life.
So, does this mean that all we need to do to be victorious despite hard times is to ask God for wisdom and He will give it? No, there are some conditions attached to what might at first appear to be a blank check from God. First, we need to ask God and He will give us assistance.
The word “ask” (1:6) here means to ask repeatedly. It is also used as a request coming from a subordinate and undeserving person. Too, the one seeking wisdom from above is to ask for it “in faith,” believing that God will respond positively. There is to be no “doubting” (1:6). Doubters are said to be like “the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” In other words, God would have us have confidence in Him to do and permit what is best for us. Without this we cannot expect to receive help from God. There is no doubt about it, we all need wisdom from God to know how to view and endure the trials of life. Yet, if we come to Him “double-minded” (:8), we will be like a person with two souls, like Mr. Face-It-Two-Ways. A person who is double-minded is one with divided allegiance.
The believing Jews to who James wrote, and by application all Christians since then up to this very day, were called upon to always view trials and hardships God’s way. Patience will have an opportunity to do its perfect work only when the child of God uses heavenly wisdom in the face of trials. The tried saint who needs this wisdom is simply to “ask of God” (v.5). James uses the present tense of the verb, which tells us to keep on asking (cf. Matthew 7:7, where the same usage occurs.). Here, then, is an invitation to persistence in prayer. Wisdom to face life’s problems has its source not in the “wise” of this world - Greeks or Jews - but in God.
- Dr. Robert Lightner, pg 9-10, Solid Stepping Stones (used with permission)