Key Verse: James 1:5
Big Idea: Wisdom comes from God.
James is a short letter, written by the half-brother of Jesus (the son of Mary and presumably Joseph, rather than Mary and God), but is extremely rich. In many ways, it is a kind of loose commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, taking and applying many of the things that Jesus taught during His earthly ministry. Going back much further, it reflects some of the content of Proverbs in the Old Testament, and could be described as where the rubber meets the road in the Christian life. Living for Jesus is not just a matter of theological learning, but of wisdom - the skill of living well.
It is easy to live well when things are going smoothly, but life is full of bumps that threaten to throw us off course. James 1 warns us that when these trials come, we have to patiently endure, and let the challenges of life mature and grow us. The only what that this can happen is to have the wisdom to know how we ought to respond to difficult situations. But where do we get that wisdom? Do we need to go to a special school? Does it require a certain amount of failure in life to learn the lessons to succeed? The answer that James gives is surprising in its simplicity: just ask. Ask, and like when Solomon asked, God will give generously without finding fault (1 Kings 3:1-14). We must not ask in a double-minded way, where we look for God's guidance, but still intend to keep our own counsel. Instead, we must ask with the kind of humility that shows that rich and poor, young and old and everything in between are all just as fragile before God.
Older kids: At a certain age, most people enter a "know it all" phase. Some people are blessed enough to leave it! Why do you think that when we gain a little bit of confidence, we go too far and assume we do not need anyone else's advice? Why is it so tempting to get set in our ways?
In our own hearts, we find only the soil that is fertile for the growth of our darkest temptations. But every good gift, including the wisdom to use those gifts well, comes from God and God alone. The secret to living life well is to simply ask God, in faith, to show us what to do, and then humbly do it. If we trust and obey, we can live the life God intends for us.
Discussion idea: Why might we be reluctant to ask God for the wisdom to deal with a situation? How might our own desires keep us from asking in faith?
Prayer focus: What is the most challenging decision facing you right now? Pray for God to give you the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it.