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"When You Need Wisdom For Life"
James 1:5-8

Sunday School Youth Group Study Notes
April 13, 2008

Theme: God gives wisdom for life to anyone who is sincerely committed to follow it.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

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.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Someone has defined "wisdom" as the skill of using the best means to achieve the best ends in the best way for the best results in life. Did you know that there's a whole book of the Bible that is devoted to the subject of wisdom for living?—the Old Testament book of Proverbs. In many ways, James is the New Testament parallel to the Old Testament book of 'wisdom for living'.

We all need wisdom for living. The Bible says that none of us—in our own selves—knows how to guide our own steps (Jeremiah 10:23); and that the knowledge of the right paths to take in life is known only to the Lord (Proverbs 20:24). Left to ourselves, we'd be a mess! But the good news is that God is very glad and very willing to give wisdom to whoever desires it from Him. He has written down all the answers in life that we need in the pages of the Bible (Joshua 1:8). All we have to do is ask for wisdom; and He will guide us according to His word.

But there's a catch. We must be sincere in our request. We must not only truly want to know what He wants us to do; but we must also sincerely commit to doing what He tells us in the Scriptures. This is the great lesson that Pastor James wished to teach his Christian friends in this morning's passage.


A. James begins by saying, "If any of you lacks wisdom . . ."; and because of what he said in verses 2-4, he probably primarily meant people who needed the wisdom to deal with trials in the best possible way. But even if we're not going through any trials (that we know of, anyway), we still need wisdom for life. Just think: what you will be twenty-five years from now will be a result of the decisions you make in life in just the next few years. You desperately need God's wisdom for life; and you need it all the time!

B. And the promise of God is that all we have to do is ask; and He will give it. James says that He gives to all "liberally"—that is, "generously". He also says that God will give it "without reproach"—that is, without ever scolding us for asking, or without telling us that we were dumb for not knowing the right thing to do. God the Father in heaven is always delighted when we ask Him what to do; because He wants us to live in the way that pleases Him and that will make us the happiest according to His will.


A. James warns (v. 6a), "But let him ask in faith"—that is, with genuine trust that God's ways are the best. Mankind fell into sin in the first place, way back in the garden of Eden, because Satan talked Eve out of believing that God's commands should be trusted in faith (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-6). What's more, James warns that we should ask "with no doubting". The word that James uses means that someone is making "judgments" about God's word within themselves—"Should I obey? Or should I not? Should I trust God's ways, or keep look for some other answers I might like better?"

B. The reason this is dangerous is because someone who "wavers" like that is as unstable as "a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind" (v. 6b). Eve is a good example of this. She knew what God had commanded; but it was easy for the devil to talk her out of doing what God says because of her instability of faith.

C. When God gives us His wisdom for living through the teaching of His word, He wants us to have so much faith that His way is the best that we will do what He says— even when it doesn't seem to match what the people of this world say to do. But when we're not committed to obey, our attitude is, "Well, God; just tell Me what it is that You say to do in this situation. And if it turns out to be something I really want to do—and if I don't find something I like better—I'll do it." James warns that, if that's our attitude, we shouldn't expect to receive anything from the Lord (v. 7).

D. James says that someone who wants God's wisdom, but who isn't committed to obeying what God says, is "double-minded" (v. 8a). It's as if they have two "selves"— one that wants God's wisdom, and one that doesn't. Such a person is like someone who has their feet in two different boats—"unstable in all his ways" (v. 8b).

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Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6. Ask, "What are the three things it says I should do?

What does it say God promises to do in response?"

NEXT time:

The long-term value of worldly riches (James 1:9-11).

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