An Exposition of James 1:5
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
The discouragement I know is: Oh, how remote are and have our hearts been from this perfect work of patience! which yet some saints have in so great a measure attained, as those great examples given have shewn, both of saints out of the Old and New Testaments. What then shall I think of myself for the present? will such a soul say; or for the future, what shall I do?
Why, truly, God hath provided sufficiently in the text for answer to these queries and complaints of yours, whereby both to relieve you against your discouragement at your want of the exercise of these things, and also to direct you to the most proper and effectual, if not the only means to obtain them.
1. As to this present discouragement about your want, and so great falling short of this hitherto, which you are so sensible of, those first words in the text, ‘If any of you lack wisdom,’ will be found greatly speaking to your relief therein.
2. As to a direction what you should do for the future to obtain it, those other words, ‘Let him ask of God,’ point us to the most proper and effectual remedy and way of supply in the case.
3. With this great encouragement added, first drawn from the nature of God, ‘Ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not;’ then seconded with this promise, ‘and it shall be given him.’
Of these three heads in what follows, briefly:
I. To the discouragement.
The opening of these words, ‘If any of you lack wisdom,’ will greatly conduce to ease your heart as to that; the effect of which is, that the Apostle plainly supposeth that true believers may both really, and in their own apprehensions especially, be found greatly lacking in point of patience when trials do befall them. And this I am sure hath reason to relieve you in what is like to be the great discouragement that usually falls out.
This to be the supposition of the Apostle is made good by opening four things:
1. That by ‘wisdom’ here is plainly meant patience, together with the perfect work of it which he had spoken of.
2. That he speaks this unto those that were true believers; ‘if any of you.’
3. How it may or can be said that true believers, who have all grace and the principles thereof in them, lack such or such a grace.
4. The intimate reason and occasion upon which the Apostle utters himself in this supposition; ‘if any,’ etc.