We are just a couple of days away from the start of a brand new year.  Personally, as we draw nearer to January 1, I’ve been thinking about some of the things I did this year and I honestly smile at those accomplishments.  I am certain you can probably say the same thing! With the coming of the end of one year, we can reflect on that year, but at the same time, we can also look ahead to the next.  

With the new year comes a new chapter on our journey of life.  January 1st brings about the idea of new adventures and new dreams.  Many of us have already been planning about the things we want to accomplish in the new year and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

Yet, the new year also brings about some things that none of us want to think about – trials (troubles).  I often find that when I reflect on things, I always try to reflect on the good. Yet, at the same time, my mind also seems to remind me of the things I had to go through in that year.  We certainly plan for the year to go smoothly, but it’s very rare – very rare – to not go through some things!

I have a good acquaintance who I saw preparing himself to go through some things the other day, and I told him that I would be keeping him in my prayers.  He said to me, “I’m leaning on God to show me wisdom I don’t have.”  What he said really moved my spirit and so I shared with him James 1:2-5 for some confirmation.  Today, I want to share this scripture with all of you as we prepare to go into this new year and decade.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

James 1:5 NKJV

Wisdom and knowledge defined

Wisdom.  James is relating our use of wisdom to the trials of life in this passage of scripture (James 1:2-8).  This is a subject I feel I tackle often in my sermons. The reason why is because many of us cannot differentiate between having knowledge and having wisdom.  You see, wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing!  In fact, if you were to look up the definition of both words, you will see that they have two different definitions.

Knowledge:  facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.  Now, pay very close attention to the definition of wisdom and notice the difference.  Wisdom: the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

You see, many of us have knowledge and have even gained wisdom, but how often do we put that wisdom to use?  My dad used to say, “There’s nothing common about sense; you either have it or you don’t!”  For example: if it’s a sunny summer morning, some of us will get dressed and go out the door.  Yet, in the afternoon, it storms and rains and since we forgot our umbrella, we’re going to get soaking wet.

We could have chosen to gain a bit more insight on the weather for that day, right?  The weather folks aren’t always right, but Glenn Burns can do a much better job of studying and predicting the weather than I can!  So, I can take his advice, grab a jacket and a raincoat to be better prepared for the weather – that is wisdom.

A life of problem solving

Wisdom, again, is not a theoretical or practical approach, but an approach that is sound in how we apply our gained experience and our knowledge. Our lack of wisdom can get us into trouble when we lack enough wisdom to make sound decisions when we are faced with trials.  How are you going to deal with that person, or that problem on the job, or some personal issue that you may have?  

How will you solve those problems if you lack the wisdom to solve it? How will you meet those trials that are ahead if you lack the wisdom to tackle those trials?  Life is like that, isn’t it? It has its moments of happiness when we are riding on cloud 9, but then another trial comes along the way and judgment calls have to be made.  

Some of us have lived long enough to realize that life is filled with many judgment calls and puzzles that puts our problem solving ability to the test. In a way, it kind of reminds me of when we used to get word problems in math back in elementary school.  I tell you, we cannot tackle our trials in life, in the same manner with which I tackled word problems. They were too wordy, or required patience that I didn’t have when I was little and so I struggled with them.

The proper attitude for handling our trials

We certainly cannot tackle what’s ahead of us with that sort of attitude!  James said that we should count it all joy when we fall into various trials (James 1:2).  He says (James 1:4), “But let patience have its perfect work.”  I tell you, for our upcoming trials in the next year, there is a certain attitude that all of us as genuine believers must have.  

I preached about Naomi and Ruth earlier this year – On Your Worst Day – and those two women were a great example of not getting down on themselves on their worst day.  They carried themselves with an attitude of patience. The patient person is always able to think through things clearly compared to the person who is frantic or impatient.

The impatient person, like how I was when it came to word problems, will simply get frustrated in their trials.  A frustrated mind is going nowhere and fast. The frantic mind is another mind that cannot focus or think clearly; it will go from one thing to the next.  So, when trials come our way next year, let us not be either of those things. We have to have the sort of attitude to where we can think clearly.

The proper wisdom to take on our trials in 2020

 Again, I ask, how are you going to deal with that person, or solve that problem on the job, or something that may be going on with you if you lack the wisdom to do so?  Life is filled with these sorts of problems and questions. Sometimes we have gained enough wisdom to be able to make a good judgment call. Then, there are other times when our wisdom is not up to par.

In these situations, we the genuine believer must have an attitude that leads us to a place of knowing that we need to seek wisdom from the Lord.  Someone will say, “God is your answer to everything.”  Well, to the person that says that out of frustration, that’s my faith in Him.  He has brought me through thick and thin! 

I feel like that acquaintance I mentioned earlier, is a very good example of the mindset that we must have as believers.  How many of us would be able to admit when our wisdom is lacking? Will your ego and pride be able to handle that sort of admission?  

We cannot take the approach from the example I used with the weather earlier. When trials come along the way, we have to put ourselves in the best position to make it through those trials!  Tackling your future trials with limited knowledge (no wisdom) is simply not a good idea! No, we have to seek out the Lord’s wisdom and not tackle our trials while lacking in wisdom.

God will give wisdom liberally

James tells us that God will give liberally (meaning freely) without reproach.  Pay very close attention to the words “without reproach.”  (The King James Version will say that the Lord giveth liberally  and upbraideth not.) What this means is that the Lord is willing to give out wisdom without any bitterness or without finding fault in us.

The Lord enjoys handing out wisdom to us when we come to Him and ask Him for it!  The question would be, what keeps us away from asking God to provide us with the wisdom we require to make it through our trials?  What is it that holds us back from doing this thing? Scripture proclaims time and time again that the Lord will answer our prayers.  James even writes to us in our key verse, if we ask for the wisdom we lack, God will give it to us.  

Knowing all the solutions to all problems

Does this mean we will now know everything there is to need to know?  Will we never have to go through any trials or have any problems? I know some of us will read this scripture and that be our takeaway.  Let’s remember that Solomon asked for wisdom, was given wisdom, but still faced many trials and had many problems as well.

The commentator of my study bible made a really good point about James 1:5.  The commentator stated, “this verse is not a blanket promise of wisdom for any situation.  In the context of life’s trials, it probably speaks of the believer being granted wisdom as to the reason for his trials or the wisdom to endure them.”

I wholeheartedly agree with that commentary.  Do not think that when you ask the Lord for wisdom, that you will then be able to tell an experienced rocket scientist how to do rocket science!  There is a proverb that perfectly sums up the point of what James is saying here. It says, “listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days (Prov. 19:20).”     

If you lack wisdom

The wise person can admit when he or she needs help!  The fool is the only one who cannot admit when he or she is in need of help.  When we pray to the Lord, He often gives us the tools we need to succeed. You can pray to God all and all night that He make you a millionaire, but millions are not going to fall out of the sky.  You can pray for wisdom, but a box of wisdom is not going to fall out the sky.

If you lack wisdom, the Lord is willing to freely provide you with counsel.  We forget that our Lord is a counselor, don’t we?  The prophet Isaiah said that His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).  God is a counselor that is willing to counsel you through your trials.   

I don’t know what all of us will face in the year of 2020 or even in this next decade.  That being said, whatever trial you are going to go through, I tell you to not be afraid to seek the Lord’s counsel!  So many of us end up struggling even more because we lack the wisdom and we refuse the Lord’s counsel (His wisdom). God is the Counselor.  If there is anybody you should turn to in your trials, it’s God.


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