Making decisions are difficult when both the facts and the future are uncertain. We need wisdom!
James 1:2-8; 4:13-15 – James’ instructions to a poor, persecuted church
1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
- Read James 1:2-8 again and note the promises and instructions regarding prayer for wisdom in times of uncertainty:
- What is the context in which this congregation should ask for wisdom? (verse 2)
- What is the motive for this prayer? (verse 5)
- Whom should we approach for wisdom? (verse 5)
- What should we do to get wisdom? (v5)
- To whom does God give wisdom? (v5)
- In what measure does God give wisdom? (v5)
- With what attitude does God give wisdom? (v5)
- What is the condition for an answer of prayer for wisdom? (v6)
- James uses strong imagery about faithless prayer in verse 6. Try to make your own metaphor that conveys the same message.
- James 4:13-15 is written in the context of humility (see 4:6-10) in which he quotes from Proverbs 3:34 “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
- Considering the context of the poor, scattered, suffering church he is writing to, why would he need to write this instruction in 4:13-15?
- What sinful attitude is James addressing in 4:13-15?
- What does James imply a Christian should do before making plans for the future?
Application and prayer
As humans we have the tendency to escape hardship and flock to the greener grass. But neither comfort nor carnal appetite should direct our lives: we live in the protection, providence and presence of God. We follow the Good Shepherd wherever He leads – through the dark valleys and to the still waters. He directs our path.
- Present your current life challenges to God: what is difficult or seem impossible?
- Pray in faith: remind yourself in prayer to God how big and wise God is by looking at His creation, his miraculous acts in recorded in Scripture, as well as His faithfulness to you in the past.
- Petition God for wisdom: Ask God to know His will in this situation – ask Him to speak to you and give you wisdom in this situation. Write down what you think and what you hear.
- Present your plans to God: the Proverbs below say to “commit your ways/work to the Lord”. So present you plans or ideas to God and ask Him if he approves. Listen to God’s Spirit. (it is always wise to get counsel from wiser Christian leaders and friends before you make an important decision).
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.