Wisdom From Asking

Before I ever knew anything about healing, grace, the Kingdom, or any other biblical concept that dominates my personal headlines, I learned to treasure wisdom. Once I gave my life to Jesus at 18, I had no instruction on how to read the bible. I did not understand the covenants or the timelines of the Word. In spite of that, I remember someone suggesting early on that I read a Proverb a day, with 31 proverbs matching up with the typical 31 days in a month.

Because I didn’t know where else to go, I dove headlong into Proverbs. You can’t spend very long in the Proverbs without realizing the immense value of wisdom. So that became my prayer, my pursuit, my everything. Painfully aware of my ignorance, I recognized my need and called out for wisdom regularly.

In my pursuit of wisdom came every revelation and principle I hold near and dear to my heart today. The beginning of wisdom was truly this: “Get wisdom.” Proverbs 4:7

James 1, in verses 2-4 says:

2 Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various [c]trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces [d]endurance. 4 And let [e]endurance have its perfect [f]result, so that you may be [g]perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4 NASB

“Endurance” insinuates the passing of time, setting the tone for all of verses 2-4. There is a sense of perseverance, gaining progress from trials, and entering into a process of completion. Anyone who has seen the fruit produced in them from trials and testing is intimately acquainted with what this verse means. Some things in your walk will only be produced through trials and testing. We learn how to celebrate and lean into it, as it is an opportunity we only have on this side of Heaven.

It is with this in mind that James makes the transition to verse 5 of James 1, penning the most stunning thing ever said of wisdom in the Scripture in my opinion. 

“5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and [h]without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Wisdom is separated here by one big BUT.

The Spirit is saying here that wisdom is not acquired the same way as verses 2-4. Some things in God have to be developed through struggle. Wisdom is not one of those things. There is no respect for age or the passing of time in verse 5.

There are no qualifiers. It simply says “ask” and it WILL be given.

This seems so simple that it defies human wisdom. Worldly wisdom is only acquired through years of trials and victories, an attribute we only apply to the aged and battle-hardened. In reality, age doesn’t guarantee wisdom. That is the biggest misconception about wisdom, that it comes naturally with age and time.

Wisdom is not the result of struggle, wisdom is the result of asking. Most people who have acquired real wisdom over time are the ones who ran into the end of themselves and sought it wholeheartedly. It’s not that the trial itself produced wisdom, it’s that the trial produced the humility necessary to cry ‘uncle!’ and ask for help. It takes struggle to get us to the place where we ask. It’s not an age thing, it’s an asking thing.

If we define how to get wisdom the way the world does, it’s always some far-off concept we can’t really have until we’re old. If I define it the way the Word does, then the truth is if I want wisdom, I must ask. The promise to me is that it will be given to me when I do.

It’s not about the passing of time, it’s not about struggle, the question is simply, “will I ask?”

The thing about wisdom is that it’s so closely related to knowledge. Knowledge can easily lead to pride. Knowledge can be your best friend or worst enemy. The writer singles out wisdom, because wisdom is purified knowledge that comes from Him. He is the source. Many people pile up years of knowledge that leads to a sense of superiority, and yet real wisdom is not the result of effort, it’s the result of going to the right source and asking. Real wisdom doesn’t lead to pride. 

It’s so simple, with such grace, that we struggle to wrap our minds around it. It comes from asking. It takes your ability out of the equation and requires you to submit to Him. To acknowledge His ways are higher than your ways.

The cost of worldly wisdom is your years. The cost of God’s wisdom is your pride. 

Wisdom: The Primary Thing

I have a Jewish friend that I ask occasional questions about Judaism and the original language of the bible. I text her once during my study regarding the Hebrew word for wisdom, chokma, asking what it really means. She responded, “That’s a loaded question. But I can tell you this, one thing we know for sure is it’s the primary thing.”

I’ve never forgotten that message. Wisdom is the primary thing. 

How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.

Proverbs 16:16 NASB1995

I recently turned down a gig that had the potential of netting me some serious coin because I discerned that taking that opportunity was not wise for my current situation. You really learn how much wisdom means to you when you get to choose it over gold. Over and over, I read of the primacy of wisdom in the Word and the urgency to acquire it: Get wisdom. Get wisdom. Get wisdom.

And the natural mind wants to know…how? 

The how is just too good and too simple. Ask.

We think it should be harder. More work. Proverbs declares to you that it is the most important thing, and you should stop at nothing to get it. And the how? Ask. 

One thing I’ve learned for certain is that, while it is important to ask for it in time of need, the greater way is to cry out for it before you’re in need. To make it a pursuit of your life regardless of circumstance. The heart that is fertile soil for wisdom is prepared to discern what it looks like in moments of need.

Ask for it today. Cry out for it. Get Wisdom.

To be continued…