by Ramesh Richard
Moron! Remember that playground epithet that you used to heave affectionately at good friends? It’s actually a biblical word for those who
• believe there is no God (Ps 14:1),
• do life without God (Rom 1:21–22), and
• hear Jesus’ words but do not do them (Mt 7:24–27).
Add these qualities to those of the fools of Proverbs, and I must acknowledge a moronic streak in my mind and heart. Sadly, sometimes I behave as though there is no God, attempt to do life on my own, and don’t obey what I know is God’s wisdom. And before you are too quick to jump to conclusions about me, I recommend you take a close look in a fogless, magnifying mirror.
Most moronic behavior precipitates from trials, especially when we have to make decisions. The need to make a decision is a trial in itself, and various kinds of trials call for divine wisdom:
• General trials—because we are born into a human situation of trouble
• Christian trials—because we want to follow Jesus in an unsympathetic environment
• Ministry trials—because we serve God in vocational ministry
My intrinsic wisdom deficiency is compounded, spiritually speaking, by being a slow learner. Abraham Lincoln confessed, “I am slow to learn and slow to forget that which I have learned.” Just when I was feeling good about keeping presidential company, I noticed that I have a double deficit—slow learner and quick forgetter! I don’t want this total lack to become a fatal one.
So how can morons get schooled in wisdom? Since you belong to this club of spiritual morons also, the Apostle James shows us how to get excommunicated from moronism (1:5–8).
First, seeing our deficiency. Here’s the early diagnosis of moronism: thinking we are sufficient in ourselves to handle life’s realities. “Fools despise wisdom,” says the wisest of humans (Prv 1:7). “But,” James says, “if any of you lacks wisdom…” In the abnormal trials of life, the first act of wisdom is to recognize that you lack it. Immediately, you will be off to a good start. Most morons don’t think they need wisdom, let alone God’s wisdom. In the normal course of life, we can often sail along with experience, education or expertise. But in the abnormal realities of life, plunged into various trials (Jas 1:2), we suddenly and quickly realize our fundamental deficit.
Second, seeking God’s sufficiency. Here’s the early proof of wisdom: acknowledging that God is sufficient in wisdom. To the exact proportion and timing of our deficiency is God’s sufficiency. If God is anything at all, He must be wisdom. So seeking God’s wisdom while acknowledging our deficiency is itself the first indication of our wisdom. “For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prv 9:10, my emphasis). Further, realizing that to “count trials as joy” (Jas 1:2) and to patiently seize them for our maturing process (v. 4) takes divine wisdom.
We read that God’s generosity is not miserly; He gives to all people generously (v. 5). God distributes wisdom to all people with a big heart and open hand for every trial. Nothing stops the large and full supply of wisdom. He liberally gives wisdom so we can recognize our deficiency in and His sufficiency toward
• finding direction in trials—angles and options we have never seen before;
• solving problems in trials—new strategies and tactics to implement;
• handling circumstances—ideas and resources to face trials.
If God’s generosity can get any better, we find that God is not mean. He gives wisdom without reproach (v. 5). He is genuinely happy to meet your request for wisdom. He doesn’t reprimand you for coming so late to him. Best of all, He doesn’t remind you of past moronic choices, whether mistakes or sins. This wisdom gift is not only spiritual in perspective and intellectual in ideas, but also psychological in relief. His wisdom comes to you with instruction and not with admonition—as your parents, teachers and friends have tried so hard and yet failed to do. He is a generous giver as well as a gracious giver.
Finally, seizing the efficiency. In philosophy, we commonly distinguish between condition and cause. For example, oxygen is the efficient condition for lighting a match, but striking the match is the efficient cause. The condition (not cause) to seize God’s generous and gracious promise of wisdom is a clearly stipulated efficiency: ASK!
Asking God meets the efficient condition, the efficiency connection between our need and His supply. It’s within the atmosphere of “asking” that God’s brings His sufficiency into our deficiency.
Can getting excommunicated from moronism be that simple? Yes! Just ask Him. Simple but not easy—because asking God for help means humbling innate pride and self-reliance. Asking in faith means not doubting (v. 6) the following:
• God is the source of our wisdom, not ourselves. I must absolutely believe God can provide all the wisdom I need to address every trial I face in every aspect of my life (v. 5).
• God will supply wisdom (“it will be given him” v. 5). Faith in God’s supply is more than positive thinking. It is the power of positive trusting. Positive trusting does not attach doubt to the nature of God or the request for wisdom.
• God’s wisdom is received in faith, without second-guessing, and is obeyed. “Faith without doubt” is not asking God for mere information. Really we already have all the information we need in the Bible. It is more than asking God for situational instruction; He is not merely a divine consultant, whose opinion is obtained as one of many. It is asking God with the intention to implement in obedience. We wish to obey Him into the known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns even though that may mean additional trials. But of course, we have God’s continuous, liberal and gracious supply of wisdom for those, too.
If we have doubts about asking God for wisdom at all, we shall not even dare to think to ask. If we have doubts about asking God for wisdom by faith, we will be like surfers driven and tossed by the wind on a violent sea (v. 6). Don’t add to trials by doubting the God who gives wisdom for the asking. Don’t be in two minds, or you will be unstable and double minded, or literally, double-faced. You will be looking toward God and yourself as the source of wisdom for trials. If we are double-minded, we unstable morons should not expect that we will receive anything of the wisdom we need from the Lord for the trials that we face (v. 7). We must not turn our faces to ourselves when we face trials; we must turn our faces to God. We may be in two minds about asking, but, as Ralph P. Martin notes in his Word Biblical Commentary on James, “God is not in two minds about His giving.”
Just Ask, Then Follow
On the outskirts of New Delhi, India, a watchtower built in the 14th century helped watchmen sight and warn the Muslim kingdom of rapacious invaders. As a teenager I ascended the entire 73-meter (239 feet) minaret with zeal. Since then, due to a stampede that killed school kids and also an effort to dissuade suicidal tendencies, this world’s tallest “rubble masonry” tower is now off-limits to tourists, other than the rampart of the first floor.
So as an adult, I needed a more deliberate approach to climb the tower. A tower guide got permission from the authorities to take me all the way to the top. At first I thought I could do it by myself, but soon I realized I needed this experienced guide to help me climb the dingy stairwell. After he told me about the brilliant architectural construction that had placed windows at just the right spots for light to illuminate the immediate next steps, I increasingly managed by myself. He said that although the windows beyond the first floor were shut off, he had been that way many times before. Thus, he could open the windows for me as we ascended further together.
He assured me that since he had revealed and I had received his wisdom, I would not need him the next time to go up to the first floor. My confidence in the light from the windows had grown. That light would be enough, during daytime. But any further, and I still needed him to escort me, to open the windows, to let in more light, to encourage me up the hard and dark way, to hold me from falling, to lift me when I stumbled, to keep on. He simply and sincerely said, “Just ask, then follow.”
When no more light penetrated the dark, what did I need to ascend? In a well-lit, familiar staircase, I could hold on to the handrails. But in this dark, unfamiliar situation with no handrails, I had to rely on asking and following my guide. Active asking without doubting meant following him into a dark unknown. Because he invited me to ask and promised me his wisdom, all I had to do was confidently ask for wisdom and then follow the guide.
If we try to “just do it” with our own resources, we will be fellow morons. If we ask Him and do not do it, we will still be morons. But if we ask Him who gives generously and graciously, and then do life, we will be wise, receiving more wisdom for the rest of life’s way. Just ask Him. Then do it.