Welcome to Welling, for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing. You have met traders all over the world, as I have. They come in all kinds, as merchants, as dealers. They buy and sell all kinds of things, material things, financial instruments, anything that can be traded, people trade, even trade in people.
In trading, there is perceived and real value exchanged for whatever is of real and perceived value. Sometimes, they get a good deal. An English tourist in Cairo was offered a large skull by a street trader. He said, this is a skull of the great Queen Cleopatra for only 100 English pounds. The tourist says, no, sir. Thank you. It’s far too expensive. And immediately, the trader produced a much smaller skull. And said, how about this one?
The tourist asked, whose skull is that? And the trader replies, oh, this is the skull of the great Queen Cleopatra when she was a little girl. We got to watch out for traders. Then, there’s the concept of trading up, to give up something, to trade for something that’s more valuable, usually of the same kind. For example mobile phones in our situation, they constantly beckon you to trade up. What is trade in and trade up?
That’s what I wish to share with you in this episode of trading up, over and out with the old and in with the new, out with my old lacks and deficiencies and in with God’s abundance and surpluses.
I have an unusual need. And he’s got a surplus. I am in chronic shortage. And he’s got it in plenty. I’m intellectually impoverished. And he has it in full. So if you take the ignorance to wisdom continuum on one side there’s my lack. On the other side is God’s wisdom.
He invites us to trade up, your lack of wisdom to trade up, all for the asking, free for the asking that he will not lose anything by giving it to you. Here is the offer:
JAMES 1: 5– if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all generously and without reproach. And it will be given to him. Those who lack wisdom, trade up and trade over. It’s an amazing offer to anyone at any time, if you lack. Lack what? Wisdom. Do you need God’s wisdom to especially address the trials that you face?
If you’re in need of it, and agree to it, and declare it, and ask God for it, he says, I’ll give you godly perspective. You will have the perspective that these are not accidental trials. They are permitted providentially. I will give you a godly process. The trials are necessary as the process by which you grow. And I’ll help you with godly practice.
They provide the opportunity to practice joy, counting all trials as joy, to practice wisdom, asking and applying wisdom and to practice faith without doubt in your prayers. Where do you get that perspective, the process of practice? Not from yourself. I am in need. You’re in need. What I do lack, God says, anything you lack, anything– it’s not speaking here about economic lacks. There are poor in the congregation that James speaks to.
Not emotional lacks– he says, I want you to count it all joy. He’s not speaking about physical or social lacks. He’s speaking about lacks spiritually. That kind of wisdom does which gives you the grounding, anchoring reality to face all that is brought your way currently, for the future. You’re filled with trials now. It’s a constant reminder throughout our life that nothing is predictable.
New things will happen. And we can never ever say we have all the wisdom we need. But we can always say, we will have all the wisdom we need for our temptations, for our testing, for our trials, the contests of life, in our relationships, in our marriages, in our family, in our friendships, in our affections and desires so that we’ll have wisdom what should be first in the heart. In our decisions, and responsibilities, opportunities, priorities, in our expressions, actions, speech, even non-verbal behavior.
All trials are providential. As one commentator says, with wisdom, we all know that trials need not be perplexing, providential but not perplexing. So we need a deep understanding of trials as the process by which we are being shaped and the prompt by which we can ask God for wisdom. A little later on in this chapter, he’s going to speak about how we pray, pray in faith. We come to it.
There is a divine kind of wisdom, not an earthly wisdom, not a demonic wisdom, not a human wisdom but a wisdom that comes from above, which gives us the ability to optimize trials, which shows us the path forward, and perspective, which gives us solutions, and angles, and dimensions that we did not know existed, just by asking.
So we keep on trading up, our lacks for his gifts. No one else can give you that wisdom– your mentors cannot, your friends cannot, your peers cannot. God can use those in order to speak into your life but go directly to God. Ask him for wisdom. I have a great friend in Singapore, business success of every sort.
Every morning, he takes his notebook and says, God, not only do I want your devotional strength for my spiritual life, I need the wisdom that comes from you for the challenges I face for this day. He writes those down, God’s perspective, God’s process, and God’s practices. Ask for wisdom, trade up, admit that your trade-in values are not so good. They are not the best. They are old and they should be out. But we trade up for the better, for the best, for the new. And we face the trials of life with God’s wisdom.