The Promise of Wisdom

The Promise of Wisdom

James 1:1-12

Hollyview Family Fellowship

The Promise of Wisdom….
James 1:1-12
Max Lucado tells this story of wisdom……
The Story of the Woodcutter……..
Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.
People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.
One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. The entire village came to see him.
“You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”
The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”
The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”
The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”
The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it.
He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.
After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”
The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?
“Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment!
Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”
“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.
The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgements.
“You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”
The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs.
Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment.
Life comes in fragments.”
It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country.
All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.
“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Yours son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”
The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”
* * *
The old man was right. We only have a fragment. Life’s mishaps and horrors are only a page out of a grand book. We must be slow about drawing conclusions. We must reserve judgment on life’s storms until we know the whole story.
I don’t know where the woodcutter learned his patience. Perhaps from another woodcutter in
Galilee. For it was the Carpenter who said it best:
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”3
He should know. He is the author of our story. And he has already written the final chapter.
This is why we read in the Bible……
Proverbs 4:7
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Proverbs 8:11
For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Wisdom is to lead and guide us in our lives. It will help us make good and prudent decisions. Decisions that will bring us life and not death.
King Solomon knew his sons would need wisdom to live there lives so at the beginning of the book of Proverbs we read his rationale for writing this book.
Proverbs 1:1-3 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;
Attaining wisdom……that is what we need!
I know this is my third week in the first 12 verses of James, chapter one. But there is so much good stuff here…..I just had to spend one more week on this verse in particular.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
This is one of the greatest promises in all of scripture.
First, we all qualify……we all lack wisdom…..I do, don’t you? We need wisdom for every area of our lives.
We need God’s wisdom in our relationships. Did you ever notice people don’t see things the same way? We see things differently and we need wisdom to help us negotiate with others.
We need God’s wisdom in making life decisions. Should we go to college? What career should we choose? Who should we marry? Where should we live? And these and similar types of decisions continue for all of life.
We need wisdom in our faith. How would God have us serve Him? Where do we let our light shine? Who does He want us to share with and influence for Him?
Where is wisdom to be found?
The book of Job is one of the books of the Bible that is known as wisdom literature……and in this very book the question is asked more than once……
Job 28:12
“But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
And the answer is given in the book of Job….
Job 12:13
“To God belong wisdom and power;
counsel and understanding are his.
Wisdom belongs to God, and He willing shares that wisdom with us in His word. This book is his message to us….so if we are to discover wisdom, we will discover it as we are guided by the Holy Spirit as we study God’s message to us.
What will it take to find wisdom?
I would like to share six principles to help us gain wisdom.
1. We must desire wisdom………
But we must be careful.. Desire for wisdom was the root of the first sin……
Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable
for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
Obviously this was the wrong approach…..defying God’s command, trying to circumvent God’s method of obtaining wisdom. Eve was looking for wisdom the easy way…..take a bite of this fruit and you will have wisdom….wouldn’t we like that? But wisdom is not given so easily.
There’s a story about a proud young man who came to Socrates asking for wisdom. He walked up to the muscular philosopher and said, “O great Socrates, I come to you for wisdom.” Socrates recognized a pompous numbskull when he saw one. He led the young man through the streets, to the sea, and chest deep into water. Then he asked, “What do you want?” “Wisdom, O wise Socrates,” said the young man with a smile. Socrates put his strong hands on the man’s shoulders and pushed him under. Thirty seconds later Socrates let him up. “What do you want?” he asked again. “Wisdom,” the young man sputtered, “O great and wise Socrates.” Socrates crunched him under again. Thirty seconds passed, thirty-five. Forty. Socrates let him up. The man was gasping. “What do you want, young man?” Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, “Wisdom, O wise and wonderful…” Socrates jammed him under again Forty seconds passed. Fifty. “What do you want?” “Air!” he screeched. “I need air!” “When you want wisdom as you have just wanted air, then you will have wisdom.
In the book of Proverbs God instructs us again and again to desire wisdom…remember nothing we desire can compare to
wisdom. Read Proverbs chapter eight where an entire chapter is devoted to the praise of wisdom.
The second principle in gaining wisdom is to
2. To Fear the Lord….
Proverbs 9:10
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
I believe “Fear of the Lord” is a good healthy respect for who He is…..He is Holy, He is mighty, He is God.
And we are not. And we need to know that and to realize that down to core of our being…We should not be telling Him how to run His universe…..we should not be telling Him how to run our lives……We need to recognize Him as a Holy and Sovereign God. There is no other.
That is the starting point for wisdom.
The third principle closely relates to this……If we are going to gain wisdom…
3. We must be humble…..
Proverbs 11:2
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Pride thinks we have all the answers.
Humility seeks wisdom from God the creator.
Remember the example of Solomon…….He had big shoes to fill…..His father David had been a very successful King….Israel had prospered under David….and then the kingdom was given to Solomon. He cried out to God for help…..Listen to his prayer….
2 Chron. 1:10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
God was pleased that Solomon asked for wisdom. It was recognition that Solomon was humble and he wanted God’s help.
I think we better follow his example and in humility ask God for wisdom….for our lives, for our families, for our church.
This is a great prayer for leaders……Give me wisdom so I might lead these people.
The fourth principle for gaining wisdom is……
4. We must be teachable
Proverbs 19:20
Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.
This is just a simple recognition that we do not have all the answers. And we must recognize that God has placed other people in our lives to help us and guide us in wisdom.
This proverb does not teach we must listen to all advice or receive all instruction.
I did a search on wisdom on my computer and came up with some pretty weird stuff. One website was from Sister Moon…who practiced Wicca and was offering to sell me a wisdom spell if I needed wisdom.
I think I will pass on her advice.
But God has placed Godly people in your life who have demonstrated wisdom by their lives…..and you need to be teachable and willing to receive advice and instruction from them.
The fifth principle for gaining wisdom
5. We must be Diligent….
Proverbs 2:1-4
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,
and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
We must look for wisdom….like we were mining silver….or looking for hidden treasure.
One of the better known treasure hunts in modern times is the quest to find the rumored wealth known as the “Beale treasure.” The hunt began when an eccentric man, who left the East for the gold and silver mines of the West, returned home, supposedly hid a vast amount of wealth, then disappeared forever. All he left behind were several messages written in a mysterious code. One of those messages when deciphered told of the treasure and its approximate location. The other documents, then, would narrow down the site. Since the Beale documents first came to light, thousands of man-hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent attempting to break the codes and find the legendary treasure.
Wisdom is the real treasure to find….and we must be diligence in our pursuit of it.
Again that means consistently and regularly reading our Bibles…studying them….seeking wisdom. How faithful have
you been in reading your bible? The final principle for gaining wisdom is 6. We must have faith……
James is very specific here…..
James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. [6] But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. [7] That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; [8] he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
We must believe God is the source of all wisdom.
We must believe God is willing to give us wisdom.
We must exercise faith when we come to God to ask for wisdom.
We must believe that we will receive it.
I believe the root of this is our concept of God. Do we believe he is a good God? Do we believe He is willing to guide and direct us?
Some people have a concept of God, that he created the universe and then left. Just wound it up like a giant cosmic clock and then went on his way. An impersonal Creator not interested in a relationship with His creator. That is not the God revealed in scriptures….God became man and dwell among us…..
God wants us to be wise. We are to bear the image of Jesus Christ. We read of Him in the gospels….
Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
God has the same desire and plan for us. That is why the Apostle Paul prayed for believers….
Ephes. 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
The more wisdom we possess, the better we will know Christ, the better we will represent Him in the world.
Together let us ask God for wisdom and believe that he will reward us with wisdom, so that we might live lives that reflect His glory and grace. And we might have the joy of leading others to His glory and grace.

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