James 1:5
(5) If any of you lack wisdom.--The Apostle passes on to the thought of heavenly wisdom; not the knowledge of the deep things of God, but that which is able to make us wise unto our latter end (Proverbs 19:20). Few may be able, save in self-conceit, to say with Isaiah (Isaiah 50:4), "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned;" and, on the other hand, the wisest and most gifted of men may truly be wanting in the wisdom descending from above.

Let him ask of God.--But whoever, learned or unlearned, feels in his heart the need of the knowledge of God, since to know Him "is eternal life" (John 17:3), "let him ask" for it in all purity of intention, simply, i.e., for His honour and service, "and it shall be given him."

That giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.--"Liberally" had better, perhaps, be changed to simply--i.e., God gives fully and directly, and reproacheth (or, "upbraideth") not the utterance of such a prayer, in no way detracting from the graciousness of His gifts. How wide the difference from any generosity of man I "Yea," wrote Dante, in exile at Verona,

". . . thou shalt learn how salt his food, who fares

Upon another's bread.--how steep his path,

Who treadeth up and down another's stairs."

"The fool," said the wise son of Sirach, "giveth little, and upbraideth much . . ., and is hated of God and man" (Ecclesiasticus 20:15).

Verses 5-11. - Digression suggested by the thought of perfection. There can be no true perfection without wisdom, which is the gift of God, and must be sought from him. It is possible that the thought and connection of the passage is due to a reminiscence of Wisd. 9:6, "For though a man be never so perfect (τέλειος) among the children of men, yet if thy wisdom be not with him, he shall be nothing regarded." But whether this be so or not, the teaching is manifestly founded on our Lord's words with regard to prayer, Matthew 7:7, "Ask, and it shall be given you;" and Mark 11:23, "Have faith in God. Verily I say unto you, Whoever shall say... and shall not doubt (διακριθῇ) in his heart," etc. Τοῦ διδόντος Θεοῦ. The order of the words shows that God's character is that of a Giver: "the giving God." His "nature and property" is to give as well as to forgive. Man often spoils his gifts,

(1) by the grudging way in which they are given, and

(2) by the reproaches which accompany them.

God, on the contrary, gives to all

(1) liberally, and

(2) without upbraiding Ἁπλῶς: only here in the New Testament, but cf. ἁπλότης in Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 9:11, 13. Vulgate, affluenter; A.V. and R.V., "liberally." It is almost equivalent to "without any arriere pensee." Μὴ ὀνειδίζοντος: cf. Ecclus. 41:22, Μετὰ τὸ δοῦναι μὴ ὀνείδιζε

1:1-11 Christianity teaches men to be joyful under troubles: such exercises are sent from God's love; and trials in the way of duty will brighten our graces now, and our crown at last. Let us take care, in times of trial, that patience, and not passion, is set to work in us: whatever is said or done, let patience have the saying and doing of it. When the work of patience is complete, it will furnish all that is necessary for our Christian race and warfare. We should not pray so much for the removal of affliction, as for wisdom to make a right use of it. And who does not want wisdom to guide him under trials, both in regulating his own spirit, and in managing his affairs? Here is something in answer to every discouraging turn of the mind, when we go to God under a sense of our own weakness and folly. If, after all, any should say, This may be the case with some, but I fear I shall not succeed, the promise is, To any that asketh, it shall be given. A mind that has single and prevailing regard to its spiritual and eternal interest, and that keeps steady in its purposes for God, will grow wise by afflictions, will continue fervent in devotion, and rise above trials and oppositions. When our faith and spirits rise and fall with second causes, there will be unsteadiness in our words and actions. This may not always expose men to contempt in the world, but such ways cannot please God. No condition of life is such as to hinder rejoicing in God. Those of low degree may rejoice, if they are exalted to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God; and the rich may rejoice in humbling providences, that lead to a humble and lowly disposition of mind. Worldly wealth is a withering thing. Then, let him that is rich rejoice in the grace of God, which makes and keeps him humble; and in the trials and exercises which teach him to seek happiness in and from God, not from perishing enjoyments.If any of you lack wisdom,.... This shows that the perfection before spoken of is not to be understood as in this life, since the apostle immediately supposes lack of wisdom in them; for this is not said in a form of doubting, whether they wanted it or not, but rather as supposing, and taking it for granted that they did; and in the first, and primary sense of the words, it intends wisdom to behave aright under temptations or afflictions. Saints often want wisdom to consider God as the author of them, and not look upon them as matters of chance, or impute them merely to second causes; but to regard them as coming from the hand of God, and as his hand upon them, as Job did; who does not ascribe his calamities to the thieving Chaldeans and Sabeans, to the boisterous wind, and to the malice of Satan, but to God: they want wisdom to observe the sovereignty of God in them, and bow unto it, and be still, and know that he is God, who does all things well and wisely; and likewise to see and know that all are in love, and in very faithfulness, and for good; as well as to see his name, to hear his rod, and him that has appointed it, his voice in it, his mind and meaning, and what he designs by it; as likewise to learn the useful lessons under it, and particularly to take the cross well, to bear it patiently, and even to count it all joy, and reckon it to be right, necessary, and useful: it requires much wisdom to learn all this, and act up to it. Moreover, this may be applied to all other cases, in which wisdom is wanted; men want wisdom to conduct them in the common affairs of life, and especially the people of God; for the children of the world are wiser in their generation, for themselves and posterity, and in the management of worldly affairs, than the children of light; and also to observe the providences of God, and the footsteps of Providence, and to follow them; and likewise to make a right use of providences, and behave suitably under them, and not be lifted up too much in prosperity, nor be cast down, and too much distressed in adversity; but to consider, that the one is set against the other, and both work together for good. Saints have need of wisdom in things spiritual; they want more grace, which is the truest wisdom, and a larger knowledge of the Gospel, which is the wisdom of God, the hidden wisdom of God; and they lack wisdom to know how to walk towards them that are without, and towards them that are within, so as becomes the Gospel of Christ: and as this is more or less the case of everyone

let him ask of God wisdom; of God the Father, who is the only wise God, who has abounded in creation, in providence, and, above all, in redemption and grace, in all wisdom and prudence; and of his Son Jesus Christ, who is the wisdom of God, and has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in him; and of the Spirit of God, who is a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, and all divine things:

that giveth to all men liberally; God is the giver of all good things, in nature, providence, and grace; every good and perfect gift comes from him, and therefore he, and he only, should be applied unto: and he gives to "all men" the bounties of his providence; and to all that ask, and call upon him in sincerity, the riches of his grace; even to Jews and Gentiles, high and low, rich and poor, greater or lesser sinners; all which he gives "liberally", readily, and at once, freely and cheerfully, and largely and abundantly; not grudgingly, sparingly, and with a strait hand, but with an open one, and in a very extensive manner.

And upbraideth not; with former sins and transgressions, with former miscarriages and misconduct; or with former kindnesses, suggesting that he had given largely already, and his favours had been despised or abused; or he had been treated with ingratitude and neglect; in which manner sometimes men put off those that apply unto them, but so does not God; wherefore every word here used is encouraging to go to God for wisdom: yea, it follows,

and it shall be given him; God has said it, Christ has promised it, and the apostle might, with certainty, say it after them, and all experience confirms the truths of it; See Matthew 7:7.

James 1:4
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