The apostle has just been saying that the trials and burdens of life should conduce, if wisely borne, to the purifying of the believing soul, the bracing of its moral energies, and the perfecting of its spiritual life. But how hard it is to bear severe afflictions thus wisely! Every one needs a wisdom above his own, who would "count manifold trials all joy," and "let patience have its perfect work."
I. A UNIVERSAL WASTE. (Ver. 5.) Wisdom means the right use of knowledge. A man may know a very great deal, and yet not be a wise man. Wisdom classifies the materials of knowledge, and studies to use them so as to build up and beautify the life. It proposes right ends, and chooses the best means by which to reach them. It shows itself not so much in doing the right thing, as in doing it at the proper time. In the highest use of the word, "wisdom" is just another name for piety. It is that state of mind and heart which is produced by the believing reception of gospel truth. The one fool of the Bible is the sinner. The only wise man is he who regards the glory of God as the end of his life, and who makes his acts and habits means to that end. Now, we all naturally lack wisdom, and a thoughtful man realizes this lack most thoroughly in the time of trial. What a rare and difficult attainment is that holy discretion which can welcome even the contrary winds of calamity, and the driving storms of tribulation, because it can make them helpful in steering joyfully towards the desired haven!
II. AN ABUNDANT SOURCE OF SUPPLY. "God, who giveth to all" (ver. 5); literally, "the giving God." The living, loving Jehovah is the one Source and Fountain of wisdom. That is one of his essential attributes; and it is his prerogative to impart it to his creatures. He gives the Holy Spirit to work wisdom in the hearts of believers. Now, the God of wisdom is the Giver of all good things. His resources are infinite, and his gifts are universal and unceasing. In his common providence he imparts blessings to all his creatures - to the barnacle that clings to the rocks, and to the archangel that ministers before the throne. And he is "the giving God" in grace also. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?" So he is ready to bestow wisdom at all times, and especially in the day of trial; he waits to impart to every devout sufferer a wealth of holy patience and of spiritual joy. And the giving God gives liberally and unreproachingly. It is his characteristic habit to be exceedingly bountiful.
III. AS EASY METHOD OF OBTAINING. "Let him ask, and it shall be given him" (ver. 5). Holy wisdom is not the result merely of thought or speculation. No Aristotelian or Baconian method can produce it. No habit of sullen, dogged Stoicism reveals its presence. It is to be had from God, and for the asking. God is the living God, and he is very near us; and we, his children, have the freest access to him. He gives "simply" to those who pray simply. He bestows "liberally" upon those who petition liberally. It is his way "to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." When Solomon asked only for wisdom, God gave him riches and honor too. When the prodigal requests only the place of a hired servant, his Father assures him of the station and honor of a beloved son. The Lord always gives liberally; never with a grudge - never ungraciously. He always gives with his heart when he opens his hand. Does the consciousness of much personal guilt make any of us slow to "ask of God"? Does our past neglect or abuse of his gifts deprive us of childlike confidence in coming to him? Then let us remember that he "upbraideth not." What a sweet word is that! It limns for our comfort a most touching trait of the character of the giving God. How unlike he is to human benefactors! Instead of reproaching the returning prodigal, he welcomes him with kisses of love. God upbraids no one for his great ignorance, or for his enormous guilt, or for his repeated backslidings, or for his long delay, or for making himself a last resource, or for coming too often, or for asking too much. How easy this God-appointed method of obtaining wisdom! We have only to "ask, and it shall be given" us. And how great the encouragement! "God giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not."
IV. AN INDISPENSABLE REQUISITE TO SUCCESS. (Vers. 6-8.) Prayer is not real unless it be the expression of faith. It must issue "from a living source within the will," and be inspired by perfect confidence in God's readiness to help. How much unbelief prevails in our time on the subject of prayer! The scientific temper of the age merely allows a man to "pray to God, if there be a God - to save his soul, if he have a soul." And the forcible words of James, in these three verses, suggest that still, in the case of very many Christians, an imperfect faith in God's readiness to respond to their prayers is one of the greatest defects of their spiritual life. We are apt, even, to speak of evident answers to prayer as unusual, and - when they do occur - as remarkable. Now, the gift of wisdom is promised only to him who asks it with a steady faith, and who evinces the reality of his faith by a life of consistent purpose. God our Father demands the confidence of his children. "Nothing doubting" should be the Christian's motto in prayer. The petitioner must not shift backwards and forwards between faith and doubt, like a tumbling billow of the sea. He must not swing like a pendulum between cheerful confidence and dark suspicion. It must be his fixed persuasion that God is, and that he is the Hearer of prayer. He must expect an answer to his supplications, and be ready to mark the time and mode of it; else he may rest assured that no answer will come. Transient emotions are not religion. It is the men and women within whom faith is the dominant power who take the kingdom of heaven by force. God is all simplicity himself, and he gives with simplicity; so he can have no sympathy with an unstable, double-souled man. A mind that continually vacillates in its choice will be prone in the end to fail in both the purposes between which it has hesitated. Certainly it will not obtain that Divine wisdom which every human heart so greatly needs for the exigencies of adversity. Steadfast faith, and that alone, will give a man singleness of eye, make him strong to keep hold of the angel of the covenant, and draw down upon him the richest blessings of gospel grace. - C.J.
Let not that man think that he shall receive. 1.
Unbelievers, though they may receive something, yet they can expect nothing from God. They are under a double misery.(1) They can lift up no thoughts of hope and comfort, for they are not under the assurance of a promise.(2) If they receive anything, they cannot leek upon it as coming by promise, or as a return of prayers.
2. Men usually deceive themselves with vain hopes and thoughts; they are out in their thinking (Matthew 3:9).
3. The cause why we receive not upon asking is not from God, but ourselves; He "giveth liberally," but we pray doubtingly. He would give, but we cannot receive. We see men are discouraged when they are distrusted, and suspicion is the ready way to make them unfaithful; and, certainly, when we distrust God, it is not reasonable we should expect aught from Him.
4. From that "anything" — neither wisdom nor anything else — that God thinketh the least mercy too good for unbelievers: He thinketh nothing too good for faith, nod anything too good for unbelief.
5. From that "from the Lord," that the fruit of our prayers is received from the hands of Christ; He is the middle person by whom God conveyeth blessings to us, and we return duty to Him.
TopicsAnything, Double-minded, Expect, Ought, Receive, Seem, Sort, Suppose
Outline1. James greets the twelve tribes among the nations;2. exhorts to rejoice in trials and temptations;5. to ask patience of God;13. and in our trials not to impute our weakness, or sins, to him,19. but rather to hearken to the word, to meditate on it, and to do thereafter.26. Otherwise men may seem, but never be, truly religious.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJames 1:5-7
8024 faith, and blessings
8604 prayer, response to God
8617 prayer, effective
8723 doubt, results of
5038 mind, the human
LibraryFebruary 28. "Count it all Joy" (James i. 2).
"Count it all joy" (James i. 2). We do not always feel joyful, but we are to count it all joy. The word "reckon" is one of the key-words of Scripture. It is the same word used about our being dead. We do not feel dead. We are painfully conscious of something that would gladly return to life. But we are to treat ourselves as dead, and neither fear nor obey the old nature. So we are to reckon the thing that comes as a blessing. We are determined to rejoice, to say, "My heart is fixed, O God, I will …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
Fourth Sunday after Easter Second Sermon.
Text: James 1, 16-21. 16 Be not deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 19 Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II
George Buchanan, Scholar
The scholar, in the sixteenth century, was a far more important personage than now. The supply of learned men was very small, the demand for them very great. During the whole of the fifteenth, and a great part of the sixteenth century, the human mind turned more and more from the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages to that of the Romans and the Greeks; and found more and more in old Pagan Art an element which Monastic Art had not, and which was yet necessary for the full satisfaction of their …
Charles Kingsley—Historical Lectures and Essays
October the Eighteenth Unanimity in the Soul
"A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." --JAMES i. 1-8. If two men are at the wheel with opposing notions of direction and destiny, how will it fare with the boat? If an orchestra have two conductors both wielding their batons at the same time and with conflicting conceptions of the score, what will become of the band? And a man whose mind is like that of two men flirting with contrary ideals at the same time will live a life "all sixes and sevens," and nothing will move to purposeful …
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
May the Fifth Healthy Listening
"Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only." --JAMES i. 21-27. When we hear the word, but do not do it, there has been a defect in our hearing. We may listen to the word for mere entertainment. Or we may attach a virtue to the mere act of listening to the word. We may assume that some magical efficacy belongs to the mere reading of the word. And all this is perverse and delusive. No listening is healthy which is not mentally referred to obedience. We are to listen with a view to obedience, …
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
An Address to the Regenerate, Founded on the Preceding Discourses.
James I. 18. James I. 18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. I INTEND the words which I have now been reading, only as an introduction to that address to the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, with which I am now to conclude these lectures; and therefore shall not enter into any critical discussion, either of them, or of the context. I hope God has made the series of these discourses, in some measure, useful to those …
Philip Doddridge—Practical Discourses on Regeneration
"Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:4. 1. "My brethren," says the Apostle in the preceding verse, "count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." At first view, this may appear a strange direction; seeing most temptations are, "for the present, not joyous, but grievous." Nevertheless ye know by your own experience, that "the trial of your faith worketh patience:" And if "patience have its perfect work, ye shall be perfect and …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 1 Cor. 13:1-3. We know, "All Scripture is given by inspiration …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
Loving Advice for Anxious Seekers
However, the promise is not to be limited to any one particular application, for the word, "If any of you," is so wide, so extensive, that whatever may be our necessity, whatever the dilemma which perplexes us, this text consoles us with the counsel, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God." This text might be peculiarly comforting to some of you who are working for God. You cannot work long for your heavenly Lord without perceiving that you need a greater wisdom than you own. Why, even in directing …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 13: 1867
All Joy in all Trials
Beginning with this word "brethren," James shows a true brotherly sympathy with believers in their trials, and this is a main part of Christian fellowship. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." If we are not tempted ourselves at this moment, others are: let us remember them in our prayers; for in due time our turn will come, and we shall be put into the crucible. As we would desire to receive sympathy and help in our hour of need, let us render it freely to those who are …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 29: 1883
The Days of the Week
JAMES i. 17. Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is neither variableness, nor shadow of turning. It seems an easy thing for us here to say, 'I believe in God.' We have learnt from our childhood that there is but one God. It seems to us strange and ridiculous that people anywhere should believe in more gods than one. We never heard of any other doctrine, except in books about the heathen; and there are perhaps not three people …
Charles Kingsley—The Good News of God
Sermon on a Martyr's Day
Of three sorts of spiritual temptation by which holy men are secretly assailed; to wit: spiritual unchastity, covetousness, and pride. James i. 12.--"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him. ALL our life (says Job), so long as we are upon earth, is full of struggle and temptation, insomuch that this life is not called a life by the Saints, but a temptation. When one temptation is over, …
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler
The Sixth Petition Corresponds as we have Observed to the Promise of Writing the Law...
The sixth petition corresponds (as we have observed) to the promise  of writing the law upon our hearts; but because we do not obey God without a continual warfare, without sharp and arduous contests, we here pray that he would furnish us with armour, and defend us by his protection, that we may be able to obtain the victory. By this we are reminded that we not only have need of the gift of the Spirit inwardly to soften our hearts, and turn and direct them to the obedience of God, but also of …
John Calvin—Of Prayer--A Perpetual Exercise of Faith
The Deepest Need of the Church Today is not for any Material or External Thing...
The deepest need of the Church today is not for any material or external thing, but the deepest need is spiritual. Prayerless work will never bring in the kingdom. We neglect to pray in the prescribed way. We seldom enter the closet and shut the door for a season of prayer. Kingdom interests are pressing on us thick and fast and we must pray. Prayerless giving will never evangelise the world.--Dr. A. J. Gordon The great subject of prayer, that comprehensive need of the Christian's life, is intimately …
E.M. Bounds—Purpose in Prayer
"The Church! Am I asked again, What is the Church? The ploughman at his daily toil--the workman who plies the shuttle--the merchant in his counting-house--the scholar in his study--the lawyer in the courts of justice--the senator in the hall of legislature--the monarch on his throne--these, as well as the clergymen in the works of the material building which is consecrated to the honour of God--these constitute the Church. The Church is the whole congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
Antecedents of Permanent Christian Colonization --The Disintegration of Christendom --Controversies --Persecutions.
WE have briefly reviewed the history of two magnificent schemes of secular and spiritual empire, which, conceived in the minds of great statesmen and churchmen, sustained by the resources of the mightiest kingdoms of that age, inaugurated by soldiers of admirable prowess, explorers of unsurpassed boldness and persistence, and missionaries whose heroic faith has canonized them in the veneration of Christendom, have nevertheless come to naught. We turn now to observe the beginnings, coinciding in time …
Leonard Woolsey Bacon—A History of American Christianity
The Puritan Beginnings of the Church in virginia ---Its Decline Almost to Extinction.
THERE is sufficient evidence that the three little vessels which on the 13th of May, 1607, were moored to the trees on the bank of the James River brought to the soil of America the germ of a Christian church. We may feel constrained to accept only at a large discount the pious official professions of King James I., and critically to scrutinize many of the statements of that brilliant and fascinating adventurer, Captain John Smith, whether concerning his friends or concerning his enemies or concerning …
Leonard Woolsey Bacon—A History of American Christianity
The Neighbor Colonies to virginia-Maryland and the Carolinas.
THE chronological order would require us at this point to turn to the Dutch settlements on the Hudson River; but the close relations of Virginia with its neighbor colonies of Maryland and the Carolinas are a reason for taking up the brief history of these settlements in advance of their turn. The occupation of Maryland dates from the year 1634. The period of bold and half-desperate adventure in making plantations along the coast was past. To men of sanguine temper and sufficient fortune and influence …
Leonard Woolsey Bacon—A History of American Christianity
Directions to Church-Wardens, &C.
CHURCH-WARDENS are officers of the parish in ecclesiastical affairs, as the constables are in civil, and the main branches of their duty are to present what is presentable by the ecclesiastical Jaws of this realm, and repair the Church  . For the better information of Church-wardens as to those particulars, which they are to present,  articles are to be given them extracted out of the laws of the Church, according to which they are to make their presentments, Can. 119. They are obliged twice …
Humphrey Prideaux—Directions to Church-Wardens
Theological Controversies and Studies
(a) Baianism. Schwane, /Dogmengeschichte der neuren zeit/, 1890. Turmel, /Histoire de la theologie positive du concile de Trente au concile du Vatican/, 1906. Denzinger-Bannwart, /Enchiridion Symbolorum/, 11th edition, 1911. Duchesne, /Histoire du Baianisme/, 1731. Linsenmann, /Michael Baius/, 1863. The Catholic doctrine on Grace, round which such fierce controversies had been waged in the fifth and sixth centuries, loomed again into special prominence during the days of the Reformation. The views …
Rev. James MacCaffrey—History of the Catholic Church, Renaissance to French Revolution
The Downfall, 1616-1621.
The dream of bliss became a nightmare. As the tide of Protestantism ebbed and flowed in various parts of the Holy Roman Empire, so the fortunes of the Brethren ebbed and flowed in the old home of their fathers. We have seen how the Brethren rose to prosperity and power. We have now to see what brought about their ruin. It was nothing in the moral character of the Brethren themselves. It was purely and simply their geographical position. If Bohemia had only been an island, as Shakespeare seems …
J. E. Hutton—History of the Moravian Church
Knox and the Book of Discipline
This Book of Discipline, containing the model of the Kirk, had been seen by Randolph in August 1560, and he observed that its framers would not come into ecclesiastical conformity with England. They were "severe in that they profess, and loth to remit anything of that they have received." As the difference between the Genevan and Anglican models contributed so greatly to the Civil War under Charles I., the results may be regretted; Anglicans, by 1643, were looked on as "Baal worshippers" by the …
Andrew Lang—John Knox and the Reformation
Whether Sacred Doctrine is a Practical Science
Whether Sacred Doctrine is a Practical Science We proceed to the fourth article thus: 1. It seems that sacred doctrine is a practical science. For "the end of practical knowledge is action," according to the philosopher (2 Metaph., Text 3), and sacred doctrine is concerned with action, according to James 1:22: "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." Sacred doctrine is therefore a practical science. 2. Again, sacred doctrine is divided into the Old and the New Law, and the Law has to do with …
Aquinas—Nature and Grace
Wherefore Let this be the First Thought for the Putting on of Humility...
42. Wherefore let this be the first thought for the putting on of humility, that God's virgin think not that it is of herself that she is such, and not rather that this best "gift cometh down from above from the Father of Lights, with Whom is no change nor shadow of motion."  For thus she will not think that little hath been forgiven her, so as for her to love little, and, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and wishing to establish her own, not to be made subject to the righteousness …
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.
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