I’m here in the course of trying to find how to live with God practically. (Jus’ to be clear: with the God of the bible, as there is no other being who deserves this title, as it means: the supreme being, the highest one, above all.) Now, umh, here I’m going to deal with the question: what is receiving wisdom from God?
The question arises from the following verses from the apostle James:

“(5) Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him. (6) But he must ask in faith, without any doubts, for the one who has doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (7) Such a person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (8) He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he undertakes.” (James 1:5-8 ISV)

I will continue to examine these verses from the perspective that the relationship to God is in the average case “mediate”, i.e. without individual interaction between God and men. (By the way, I realize that this perspective needs a name to identify it.) Choosing this perspective willingly is not to say that it is the ultimately correct one, but to examine its validity on the go. What follows is a selection of theses and arguments for them:
  • Getting wisdom is not getting a concrete answer what to do but goodness ability. When trying to understand a text one has to use the meanings (or: connotations) that an author attributed to his words, not one’s own. This is esp. important when dealing with old or translated text as both changes the language and might increase the difference in meaning to the average use of words today. This holds true somewhat for “wisdom” here. Intuitively, we will understand this verse as: if you don’t know what to do in any concrete situation, if you lack any answer, pray to God for it. However, James has a more general concept in mind, as appears from his following words: “However, the wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, willing to yield, full of compassion and good fruits, and without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.” (James 3:17 ISV). Cf. also the context: James 3:13-17 ISV. For James, wisdom is the ability to live rightly. The same seems to be true in King Solomon’s case (I Kings 3:7-12 NASB): he prayed for wisdom and received an ability to be wise “himself”, not a communication channel to ask God whenever he needed a decision.
  • Wisdom from God comes without concrete interaction, on average. We saw that wisdom does not consist in concrete answers but in ability to generate concrete answers. This opens the possibility that God might give wisdom not in a concrete, delimited interaction but without it. This assumption is supported somewhat by James’ not saying what experience we’ve to expect when receiving wisdom from God. And by the experiences of those who prayed: it seems to happen very infrequently that we received wisdom from God in an explicitly supernatural way. Instead, the wisdom might “just be there” or “just grow up”, just as it seems to have been with Solomon.
  • Wisdom is the agency of the Holy Spirit. When comparing James’ description of wisdom (James 3:17 ISV) and Paul’s list of the “fruit of the spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23 ISV) it appears that both is the same, in essence. So wisdom, the ability to live, is due to the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is unclear however if it is something “human in essence” as the effect of the Holy Spirit’s teaching and educating, or something “divine in essence” as the concrete agency of the Holy Spirit as our “new core”. Or both. This is however not that essential …
  • Answers for concrete situations are termed “knowledge” in the bible instead. One of the charismatic gifts is the “gift of knowledge”, enabling people to recognize what God thinks about a situation and what he proposes concretely. Quick hint: in I Corinthians 12:8, speaking wisdom and knowledge is identified as two separate gifts.
Date: 2007-08-04
Last major change: 2007-08-08

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