If you communicate via text messaging, Mr. Autocorrect is often your friend. He appears to be highly educated, knows more words than you know, and knows how to spell words that you never were able to spell correctly. Thus, you often trust him to automatically correct misspelled words for you as you feverishly type messages with your thumbs.
But Mr. Autocorrect is not always wise. Perhaps you have learned, in some awkward ways, that he is far from perfect. He may know a lot of words, but he does not always know when to use them. He may be smart, but he is not always wise.
Clearly there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom is not merely knowledge; wisdom is knowing how to apply the knowledge. Charles Spurgeon said, “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many people know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
Wisdom is far superior to knowledge. In fact, according to the Book of Proverbs, “Wisdom is supreme—so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7).
The good news is that God both owns and gives wisdom. He rescues us from our folly, from being Mr. Autocorrect. We don’t need to be a foolish person who merely possesses knowledge. By the grace of God, we may be filled with His wisdom. The apostle James wrote, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
If any of you lacks wisdom…
The statement “If any of you lacks wisdom” is rhetorical, as all of us in our humanity and imperfections lack wisdom. And we will never allow God to give us wisdom unless we first admit we need it. We must come to a point where we see ourselves as beggars in desperate need of God’s wisdom. As Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.”
He should ask God…
When we understand that we lack wisdom, “we should ask God.” The verb in the original language is an imperative, meaning that the Scripture commands us to ask for wisdom. This is a gracious invitation from a loving God who desires to give us wisdom.
Cicero, a Roman philosopher who believed in many gods, once listed what was appropriate to ask of the gods. Cicero said that you could ask the gods for power, wealth, health, and honor. But that it would be absurd to ask for wisdom from a god because the gods are powerless to give wisdom to their worshipers. Cicero was right about the gods being powerless to grant wisdom. But he did not know our God.
Who gives to all generously…
God owns all wisdom. He brought wisdom forth as the first of His works (Proverbs 8:22). He has never asked for directions, raised His hand to ask a question, needed to watch the news, been confused, surprised, or second-guessed Himself. He is not smarter in one subject over another because He knows all things equally and perfectly. Since God exists outside of time, He knows and understands the intricate details of the past, present, and future. Yet God is much more than a know-it-all. He not only possesses absolute knowledge, He is also wise. He skillfully puts His knowledge into action for His own glory and the good of those whom He loves.
And the God who owns all wisdom generously gives it. Not in small doses. Not with hesitation. But liberally with no criticism or rebuke. He gives wisdom, something we do not deserve, as if we actually deserve it. We see in the Book of James that He is indeed a gracious and generous God.