God is More Gracious with Counsel than I Am
What is your response when someone comes to you for counsel? Do you have a welcoming disposition? Does it make you feel affirmed, just a little bit? What about with those repeat “askers?” Do you think to yourself, what, again? Haven’t we covered this ground before? I’ve gone over this with you before. I thought you were smarter than that?
Let’s leave the counsel we give to our kids out of this. It may only lead to questionable feelings and potential family problems. But what about those to whom you give your time and wise counsel and they go and do something entirely different? Does that disturb you? Do you pout? Do you vow, never again? Are you even likely to be open to them if they approach you again because they didn’t seem to value what you had sincerely given them?
Solomon was a wise man. He knew where to go for the help he needed. In fact, he cut a blockbuster deal with God. We see in 2 Chron. 1:7 that “God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (Now don’t you just wish that was you?) Solomon hit the jackpot with his reply saying “Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours?” (v.10) It appears that was just what God wanted to hear, for God said he would give him wisdom and knowledge as well as wealth, riches and honor such as no king has ever had.
Much of the book of Proverbs is about principles of wisdom, courtesy of Solomon. Early on in Prov. 1:7 he sets the tone saying “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Solomon wasn’t the only person with a concern about gaining wisdom for godly living. Jesus’ brother James has something significant to say in his letter. Hear his words (emphasis mine) “5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not supposethat he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8) James’ closing with such a strong rebuke ought to give us cause to pause and reflect.
More so than wisdom for the “long haul” of Christian living, James is referring here to wisdom for the moment . . . . when we just don’t know what to do. Note the key elements of truth James imparts to you and me.
V. 5: God’s offer of wisdom is open to any who follow him. Not just that, God intends to give wisdom lavishly to those who ask and he gives it graciously, not condescendingly or with disdain or contempt because we lack it . . . misapplied it . . . or forgot it! We also note our “ask” is through prayer, not necessarily through a scripture search for our personal precise need.
V.6: Here’s the challenging part, to ask in faith, trusting God to give us what we are seeking and truly believing he will! The “with no doubt” part is critical. We may have respectfully searched scripture to see if there is instruction that literally “nails” our concern and come up dry. Few of us will ever hear audibly from God. That doesn’t matter. Our challenge is to respond to God through prayer by demonstrating we believe we have received or are in the process of receiving the word from God we are seeking and to act on it . . . in faith. Often the impartation of God’s wisdom to us is subtle. But it’s there!
V. 7: God provides wisdom to the “asker,” not the “feeling” of wisdom. A “wishy-washy” attitude by us while seeking God’s wisdom entitles us to nothing. God is not pleased by this spiritual instability. And we rob ourselves from seeing God’s wisdom bear fruit through us by his leading us through our concern or decision. Our tendency may be to look for a sense or feeling of rightness about God’s response. Remember, we live by faith, not by feeling, and God doesn’t fool around when we come to him with serious needs. He will impress upon and reward (feeling or not) those who diligently seek him in faith – and we are to follow through . . . in faith! (Heb. 11:6)
Aren’t you pleased that God is so welcoming and gracious in his desire to respond to our need for counsel? His attitude is so perfect. He longs to guide our steps. The Psalmist knew that when saying “The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord; He delights in every detail of their lives.”(Ps. 37:25) I need more of that. How about you? Think About It.