October 17, 2009

The Greater Gift

A wonderful Jewish prayer goes something like this, “Let me not have need of the gifts of men, whose gifts are few, but their upbraidings manifold; but give me out of Thy large and full hand.”

When in trouble, most people ask help or advice from other people. While God can use others to counsel me, He is teaching me to go to Him first. He is the only one who can guarantee perfect counsel. He is wise and the source of true wisdom. The Bible rightly says,

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)
Today’s devotional reading reminds me that biblical wisdom is not philosophical speculation. It is knowing and putting into practice the absolutes of God’s will. This wisdom  has particular characteristics. Later in his epistle, James describes what wisdom is and what it is not.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18)
If I seek counsel and the advice I am given promotes selfishness in me, it is not wise advice. If I ask God for wisdom and remain selfish, filled with envy, am boastful or resist the truth, or am creating a ruckus, then I’ve not received the wisdom that I asked for.

God’s wisdom is not mixed with human greed or selfishness. It never comes up with schemes to put me above others, nor does it encourage any kind of sin in any way. It isn’t agitated or harsh, nor is true wisdom stubborn. In fact, divine wisdom results in right conduct in all of life’s matters.

Asking for wisdom is a command to pray. In its context, asking for wisdom is related to the trials of life. I’ve learned that all uncomfortable and unasked for events and situations are intended to drive me to greater dependency on God. They make me realize that I have no sufficient resources of my own. God is my source and resource. Wisdom comes from Him.

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