General Idea: Faith is the confidence, without hesitation or distrust, which we are to have in God's power. It requires the practice of wisdom. James tells us that Faith is not about relying on ourselves; rather, it is about really, truly, and wholeheartedly seeking after God. This means He is first and foremost in us. He implores us to literally beg for wisdom because we are empty by ourselves. If we do not seek wisdom but remain in our own thinking, we will be un-tethered like a small boat without an anchor in a storm, tossed and tumbled in the waves of stress and life. Our Faith will be weighted, as we will be literally unstable-mentally, relationally, and spiritually without our Lord's direction!
Christians, especially those of us in leadership and pastoral roles, need wisdom to further empower Faith to take us through all of the avenues of life and especially through the hard times of stress and suffering. If we do not seek wisdom, we will never learn from our mistakes and never develop more Faith from our experiences. We will never grow, and in fact, may keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. How sad it would be to go through a great experience or even a tough time and not get anything out of it! It would just be a waste, an empty experience void of meaning or benefit to us or others around us. Without wisdom, we will neither learn His precepts nor experience His wisdom and help. We will not be infused with Faith; therefore, our ways and those of the world will toss us about until we drown in anxiety and despair. Our life will have been a vapor that had little meaning or benefit-a life wasted instead of a life triumphant. What is the key? It is learning that our Faith is also hope-hope that is in the Lord, not in our expectations (Psalm 25:4-5; Mark 9:17-27; John 16:33; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; 11:23-27; Heb. 12: 6-10)!
- Faith helps us to accept God's plan for our lives and then ask for the wisdom to deal with it. It is not seeking what we think or want or what others who are less mature have to say; rather, we are to seek God and His Word to give us the knowledge to grow and to get through. God assures us that when we seek Him, He will respond. When we ask for wisdom, He will give it to us! The key is to ask by Faith. This is the confidence in God's power-having no doubts that He is there and will help us. For if we doubt, we will not have confidence, and our struggles will toss us to the point that they drown us.
- Wisdom is not just knowledge and information; rather, it is practical, spiritual insight from God's values and then application of righteousness and truth. It means to be wise (as in understanding), asking God for comprehension, for His perspective, and cooperating with Him, not asking why, but rather how we can learn and grow. It is also a response of being godly, how we can please God in character and maturity (Prov. 1:2-4; 2:10-15; 4:5-9; 9:10-12; 1 Kings 3; Heb. 5:14).
- When we ask God, we are actually begging God with passion, realizing we are helpless and in great need. He is the source of wisdom and the One we are to go to for all aspects of life! He will grant our request as long as it is sincere and in His will (1 Kings 3:5-9; Prov. 2:6; Luke 11:9; James 4:2; 1 John 3:21-24; 5:14-15)!
- In contrast, tossed refers to being unstable, immature, and weak in Faith (Eph. 4:14-16). We only become un-tossed by the anchor of Christ in us, and in pursuing Him! Also, Sea is a term that drove fear into Jews then. They did not venture into the ocean, but relied on others to do that in fishing and commerce. What drives the doubts and fears in you (Isa. 57:20)?
- Yet, with Faith we will see that our life is about pleasing God, not of pleasing ourselves! It is about abandoning self-desires and focusing on His-desires! His plan is far better than ours!
- Faith is our object and loyalty. Christ is what we hope for; Christ is what is to be seen! Faith is the promise of God that gives us the hope and confidence so we can receive, act on, obey, and trust God's promises because God is sovereign and trustworthy. Faith will help us perceive the world by what its potential is; not just by the suffering we experience and see. This helps us be implanted with hope (Matt. 6:33; John 14:9; Rom. 12:2; Phil. 4:8; Hebrews 11:1).
- Doubt comes when we are not exercising our Faith. We will be consumed with doubt and distrust-the opposite of God's call and plan for us-and we will lose our trust and hope that God is in control! When we do this, we will lose or miss out on seeing God come through with His promises! Doubt is also a form of inconsistent living and hypocrisy, and is greatly condemned by God. It is saying one thing and doing another (1 Chron. 12:33; Psalm 12:2; Matt. 6:24; James 4:8). It is also indecision! It is being unwilling to make up your mind and then go in the right direction!
- Unstable. We are called to make decisions based on God's values and not our ideas or indecisions. How do our decisions affect others? How are they relational and beneficial to others and for God's glory?
- Doubts should not derail us unless the Holy Spirit is telling us that we are going in the wrong direction. To know the difference, be in prayer. Take comfort; the impossible becomes the possible in Christ (Matt. 21:21-22)! Doubt will greatly hinder your Faith in your service and growth in Christ; doubt can actually cancel out your prayers and His work in you! We are not called to be perfect, because He can use our weakness and failures, but doubt is like putting our shoes on backwards; we will be uncomfortable, hurt, and not go very far! Doubt will greatly hinder us! We must see how much God loves and cares for us so we will have no need for doubt! Do sin and discouragement have you by the heel or throat? Seek out why you are doubting; is there a good reason, or are past experiences and fears hindering you (Luke 11:10)?
Faith means we have to take the initiative to reach out and accept His Hand, to allow Christ to lead us out. We are not to try to swim by ourselves, as the waters of life are too strong; the currents and tides of desires and wrong opportunities will overwhelm us. Anticipate what may lie ahead and prepare; this is James' whole point! Unequivocally, we have to reach out for Christ and Him only! We can choose not to be bitter, rather be better! Because, what we receive from God is good. What we receive from self and others, with personal agendas that are not centered on God, will be bad and distract us from our growth. If we are being real with our spiritual formation, we will realize our need for Christ and our continual need for His wisdom (Matt. 5:3)!
What do I do when I am overwhelmed? Ask God for help; for He is able! Trust in His control! He is the God who can keep us walking above the waves, and keep us alive and going when we are under them! Go through His Word, seek what you are to learn, how you can get through, and for wisdom. If we do not learn, all those "waves" will just be a waste, and perhaps we will keep going through them until we do learn (Psalm 142:1-7; John 7:17; 1 Peter 1:6-7). Do not escalate your situation by complaining, or distort it by denial, bitterness, or isolation! Do not be dumb, trapped in your own anger and regret. Be smart! Be a Christian who learns and grows and who is committed to obedience, spiritual growth, and maturity. Instead of moaning, seek His grace to solve the situation! Do not blame, or seek fault in others or yourself; rather, get on with life and your commitment to Christ. Allow His amazing work in you! Resistance to God, our bad attitudes, and anger only cause us more harm as we choose to be tossed by the seas of life without hope or purpose. Let Christ be your anchor, else you drown and your life becomes a series of wasted opportunities. When you could have and should have grown, you will have squandered His call, put your energies into complaints, and your mindsets and attitudes into bitterness and anger. We need to come to the point that we trust in the Lord, regardless of how good or how bad life is, for it is temporary. What we learn will be eternal (John 7:17-18)!
- Are you impulsive? Why, and how so? How does this benefit your Faith? How can it distract you from growing in Faith?
- What is not right in your Faith that needs wisdom and attention from God?
- What causes your Faith to be unstable? What do you need to do to become more stable and to have an Anchor for the storms of life?
- How can you become more confident that God gives us the plan and the victory?
- What do you do when you are overwhelmed? Because of this passage, what will you do now?
- Why is wisdom important in order to take our Faith though the avenues of life?
- What happens if we do not seek wisdom? How will our Faith be affected if we never learn from our mistakes and experiences?
- How do you make decisions? How can this passage help you be more decisive and confident with your Faith?
- How does Faith give us the promise of God, hope, and confidence? How will you receive, act on, obey, and trust in God's promises?
- How can you learn to take your life and your surroundings as they are, and then strive to become what you can be for His glory, not just for what you want? What would your Faith be like then? How would you benefit others?
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4
For more details see the exegetical study on this: James 1:5-8
© 2004, revised 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org/