STUDY | Spend the week studying James 1:2-5. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | God gives His wisdom generously to those who ask for it.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Life is full of twists and turns, difficult decisions, complicated relationships and plenty of nuance. It’s rarely what we expect it to be. Like a sailor on the turbulent sea, we want the ability to navigate the choppy waters of life. But if we’re honest, we know we’re limited in our understanding of how to respond in a given situation. We need a guide from the outside to help us navigate life with wisdom.
Thankfully God is generous to give His wisdom to those who ask for it. This week your group will discuss God’s wisdom and how to get it.
Q: Where do you most experience the complexity and difficulty of navigating life?
Q: How would you define wisdom in your own words?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
TESTING YOUR FAITH
Earlier in his letter, James tells believers to rejoice when they meet trials in life. Why would he tell them to rejoice in suffering and difficulty? Because trials test our faith. Like a gold test where material is beaten with a hammer to see whether it’s real gold, our faith needs to be tested with trials. This is how God develops character and perseverance in His people so they can be strong men and women of faith.
Read: James 1:2–5. Describe how someone would act differently if they rejoiced in a trial they were facing.
Q: Share about a time when God used a trial to test your faith.
ASK FOR WISDOM
James wants these believers to have a faith that is wholly devoted to God and to be mature in their faith. Wisdom is the way to this kind of devotion and maturity. In simple language, James tells believers, “If you lack wisdom, ask God for it, because he loves to give it.” God promises to give wisdom to those who will simply ask for it. He won’t hold back or tell you to wait. He promises to give someone wisdom, which is the ability to understand the world in light of His Word and purposes.1 Wisdom helps you connect God’s truth to life. When you have wisdom, you know how to apply your knowledge in life’s events and decisions, whether big or small.
Q: What can keep someone from being wholly devoted to God?
Q: How are you growing in God’s wisdom currently? Where do you see it?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
YOUR FATHER’S GENEROSITY
God is the source of all wisdom, and we can’t gain true wisdom for the complexities of life without knowing Him. In James God gives an open invitation to His people to come and find the wisdom they need for right living in Him. God isn’t irritated or inconvenienced when you come to Him with your needs. He actually delights when you come to Him in need. Your Heavenly Father is loving, and He is generous in giving His children what they need in life.
Q: How does seeing God as a loving Father who generously gives wisdom change the way you relate to Him?
Q: Write down three areas in life where you need God’s wisdom.
A HUMBLE HEART
You can’t have God’s wisdom without humility. Humility is being able to see yourself and others with a right perspective. Humility is the opposite of pride, which is thinking your abilities, intelligence or status makes you better than others. A humble heart receives wisdom. A proud heart rejects it. Later in his letter, James reminds us that God gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud (James 4:6).
Q: How does pride keep you from growing in wisdom?
Q: What advice would you give someone younger to encourage them to live humbly?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
WORK IN PROGRESS
One of the many rewards of wisdom is a tender heart toward God. It softens your heart to receive God’s Word as truth, which exposes both the good and bad in you. Each of us is a work in progress. There’s a mix of good and bad in us. There are places where God is working and producing good fruit in you. But there’s also sin that still produces bad fruit in your attitude and actions. Wisdom helps us discern between the two and develop the necessary skills for living a successful, God-honoring life.
Q: Why is it important to remember that you’re a work in progress?
Q: What would be different about you if you made a commitment to seek God’s wisdom in every area of your life?
Think of an area where you need God’s wisdom most right now. Ask God for it. He will generously give it to you. Pray for someone specific, who needs to discover the true source of wisdom, Jesus Christ.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
• Read James 3:13–18 and reflect on what James says about wisdom that comes from God.
• Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Wisdom Literature in the Bible Wisdom literature in the Bible is “a genre of writing featuring wise sayings and astute observations. These writings teach how to live according to such principles as intelligence, understanding, common sense, statecraft, and practical skills.” Most of the wisdom literature in the Bible is found in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job.
Each of these books explore the basic question, “What does it look like to live a good life?” Proverbs teaches us about God’s character and wisdom, which can guide us through life in a variety of areas. But sometimes bad things happen to good and wise people. This is what Ecclesiastes addresses. Ecclesiastes shows us that we must trust God instead of trusting ourselves. Job wrestles with the question of why a wise God would let terrible things happen to an innocent man. God answers Job and shows him that his suffering is one part of a larger story God is writing in the universe through His wisdom.
Fear of the Lord “To James and to Jews, wisdom was much more than knowledge and intelligence. Judaism emphasized that ‘the fear of the Lord’ was the starting point of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). Wisdom was a spiritual trait which developed from a wholehearted love for God’s ways.”
Wisdom in a Person God’s wisdom gives us principles for living, but His wisdom is more than principles. True wisdom is found in a Person—Jesus Christ. He is the source of all wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). He is the greatest teacher of wisdom (Prov. 2:1–5; Matt. 7:13–14). He gives wisdom (2 Cor. 3:3). Faith in Christ enables us to know the beginning of wisdom, which is the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7).
1. Douglas J. Moo, “The Letters and Revelation,” in NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 2526.
2. David K. Stabnow, “Wisdom Literature,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1677. 3. “Wisdom Series: About Wisdom Literature,” The Bible Project, accessed November 1, 2018, https://thebibleproject.com/explore/wisdom-series/.
4. Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 258.
5. Matt Smethurst, “Tim Keller Wants to Help You Become Wise: Gleaning Daily Wisdom from Proverbs,” The Gospel Coalition, November 6, 2017, https:// www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/keller-wants-to-help-you-become-wise/.