instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Word to the would-be wise

One of the cool things about reading exhortative books of the Bible like James is that you almost can't help but run into other things that remind you of some verse. A passage about how a Christian should act is going to be relevant to how Christians (and others) actually do act.

For example I read these verses in James recently enough to remember them:
But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.
And you might think, "Well, of course I want wisdom, and I certainly don't doubt that God will give it to me generously and ungrudgingly. It's not like He wants men to be foolish." If anyone is wise enough to ask God for wisdom, how can he be of two minds in wanting that wisdom?

And then Zadok draws attention to this observation by St. Bernard:
Clearly, you pour forth wisdom or understanding from your lips in three ways: if on your lips there is the admission of your own sinfulness, thanksgiving and the voice of praise, and words that encourage.
So the question becomes: are you of two minds about keeping the words that pour forth from your lips to those of confession, thanksgiving, and encouragement? If so, then if you ask God for wisdom, you aren't really asking for wisdom itself, but for some half measure that allows you to persist in your preferred foolishness. And God, not one for half measures, will give you what you ask for, which is what you already have.