Study Notes

James 1:5-11


When we started our study of the book of James last Sunday morning, we saw that trials and difficulties in this life actually benefit us, because they produce endurance in our lives. And when we have endurance, we know that we are growing, maturing, being completed and perfected. Paul told the Philippians that...

Phil. 1:6 ...He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

He is perfecting us, completing us. We are being given more wisdom for this life, more understanding about this world. He is giving us everything we need, as Peter wrote,

2Pet. 1:3 ...His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him...

But you may have thought last week, "My trials don't seem to be doing anything but trying my patience. My difficulties aren't doing anything but being difficult. I don't seem to be being perfected or completed through them. I certainly don't see myself lacking in nothing."

James addresses that very statement as we pick up in verse five.

1:5 Asking For Wisdom

If you're not growing through your trials, it's because you're not turning to God and saying, "Lord, what can I learn from this? What wisdom is there for me to receive in the midst of this difficulty?" The simple solution is to ask.

God desires to give you wisdom. He wants to give so many good things to you. Jesus told us,

Luke 11:9-13 "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or {if} he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall {your} heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"

As Christmas approaches, your heart swells with the desire to give gifts to those whom you love. You like to watch as your children open their presents and squeal with delight over what they have been given. God is the same - He loves to give good gifts to His children. It fills His heart with gladness.

Generously And Without Reproach

Do you believe that God wants to bless you, to give you gifts? Even many of us with faith really think that God wants to bless everyone but us. I have no trouble believing that God wants to bless you with gifts, but I have a hard time believing it for myself. You see, I know the sin in my own heart, I don't know it in yours. I believe that you're generally a good person whom God wants to bless, and that I am scum.

But here James tells us that He gives to all. He gives generously and without reproach. The word translated "reproach" here means without disapproval, or literally, "not casting in the teeth." God is ready to give to you, dear saint. To give to you generously. And He's not saying, "Well, it's against My better judgment to bless you - I really don't want to." He's not throwing the blessing in your face, saying, "Here, I hope you choke on it!" He really really loves you, with the same type of love that you have for your own children - but much deeper.

So if you're in need of wisdom, pray and ask the Lord to reveal it to you. He wants to give it to you.

That being said, however, there is one stipulation on this promise, told to us in the next verses.

1:6-8 Doubt

When you ask God, it is essential that you believe He wants to bless you and will bless you. You recall that the writer of Hebrews wrote,

Hebr. 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Faithless prayer is an oxymoron. If you don't believe it, why are you asking? If you don't believe in Him, who are you talking to? That really is the height of instability.

If you do not believe what you are praying, don't expect to receive what you are praying. Jesus said,

Mark 11:24 "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be {granted} you.

Now the normal reaction to the reading of this verse is, "Alright! I'm gonna ask for a million bucks! A Ferarri! A big new house!" But anticipating this, look at what he writes next.

1:9-11 Proper Perspective On Profits

When God promises to answer our prayers, why is it that the first thing that jumps into our mind is money? Security? Power and position? If God appeared to you and said, "I will give you one thing - what will it be?" What would you ask for? I would like to think that my answer would be, "Lord, give me such an evangelistic gift that every unbeliever I talk to would be instantly saved from the fires of hell." But in reality, most of us would say, "I want to be financially secure for the rest of my life." What a terrible perspective on this life!

James tells us that if we're in humble circumstances, we should glory in our high position. Why? Because Jesus taught us,

Matt. 19:23-24 And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

We who don't have a lot of finances to keep us bound up in this world system have such an easier time staying close to God, and relying on Him to provide.

On the other hand, the one who is rich has all kinds of trouble. Sure, he's got the car, the suits, the vacations. But how long is that going to last? A few more decades maybe? Then what is he left with? Solomon was the richest man in the world in his day. He had so much money that we read,

1Kgs. 10:21 ...all King Solomon's drinking vessels {were} of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon {were} of pure gold. None was of silver; it was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon.

Now THAT'S rich! But with all of his money, his power, and his fame, he was not happy. Late in life, he wrote this:

Eccl. 2:18 ...I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me.

Solomon had so much money, but what good did it do him? It didn't add a single day to his life. In reality, it aided his backslide away from the Lord. Jesus taught that the deceitfulness of riches is like thorns that grow up to choke plants, keeping them from bearing fruit (Matt. 13:22).

Let's make a commitment in our heart to ask for wisdom instead of riches, and believe that God will freely grant it to us.

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