Every day I see the rich drive by in Bentleys and the poor ride by on bicycles. I live in the city of Dubai, on the Arabian Peninsula. My city was built on the magnetism of promised riches. Many moved here for better jobs and bigger paychecks. While it’s certainly not wicked to be wealthy, the Bible reminds us that we need wisdom, not wealth.
Many of us lack wealth in the world’s eyes, but we know we possess unimaginable prosperity in Jesus Christ. We have a heavenly inheritance (James 2:5) and possess heavenly treasure (Matthew 6:20–21). Paul says we have “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). Our bank accounts may be empty here, but our investments are being held in a treasury where moth and rust cannot destroy (Matthew 6:19).
Still, there is a danger we face in thinking money is what we need most. It’s a danger Jesus warned of often. Some hear the word, but the deceitfulness of riches choke it out (Mark 4:19). Others are driven by their greed for more and more and more, and they compromise their faith. Ananias and Saphira’s love for money and cost them their lives (Acts 5:1–6). There are many more warnings in the New Testament for the rich than there are for the poor. So is it possible to love Jesus and money? The prosperity gospel says ‘yes,’ but Jesus says ‘no’ (Matthew 6:24).
There is also a subtle danger when it comes to wisdom. We all lack wisdom, but some of us don’t know it. People who don’t know they lack wisdom are like those with spinach between their two front teeth–everyone else can see it, except them. A couple indicators may be helpful.
You might not know you lack wisdom if you are impressed by your own wisdom (Proverbs 3:7). Do you think you are always right? Can you not remember the last time you were wrong? You may be an intellectual genius, but these are signs of pride, not wisdom.
You also might not know you lack wisdom if you don’t seek godly church members or pastors for counsel (Proverbs 11:44). Who do you go to when you face big decisions in life? Do you lean on your own understanding or do you open your life to the counsel of others?
Prosperity preachers may tell you to speak incantations over God and command him to financially bless you. But he’s not promised you any material riches in this life. However, God has promised you something even better, if you ask. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).
James actually commands us to ask God for wisdom! And like his older brother, Jesus, he roots his command in the doctrine of God (see Matthew 7:7–8). God is the source of wisdom. He’s the counselor who needs no counsel and the teacher who needs no teacher.
God is also the giver of wisdom, and he gives generously! He is undivided and unwavering in his giving. He is sincere and single-minded in his giving. He generously gives to all without partiality and without reproach. God is happy to give. He doesn’t scold us or criticize us for lacking wisdom. God is not stingy, or too busy to give you wisdom. He is not easily annoyed. He is glad to give you the wisdom you need. Jesus reminds us, “You’re evil and you know how to give good gifts… how much more will your Father?” (Matthew 7:9–11). We know we can count on God to give us the wisdom we need because God generously gave us his only Son, Jesus Christ–the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24)!
You may think you need wealth, but you don’t need it and God hasn’t promised it. Faith in God will not guarantee you a Bentley. But you can count on God for the thing you need even more than wealth. Ask God for wisdom. Ask him in a manner reflecting his single-minded giving. Ask him today.