God Gives Generously to All – Without Finding Fault???

handsSo I’m sitting in youth group yesterday, listening to someone recite James 1 from memory. It’s a well-done affair, with only an occasional reversion to cue cards. But one verse leaps out and trips me up, and it occurs to me that it’s always done so.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

Wait, whaaaat?

It makes you blink, jump back, and scan it again to make sure you read it right. As if you were reading this sentence and suddenly octopus.

God gives generously to all…without finding fault?

It’s the Bible, so it can’t be a typo (despite what the skeptics say). It must be the truth. But it reveals a deep heart belief of mine, like the beam of a flashlight piercing deep into a long-forgotten basement.

I thought all God ever does is find fault.

There’s certainly plenty of fault for God to find in me. He’s certainly entitled to search; our lives and hearts are an open book to God, and he has the right to sanctify us and make us more like him. I’m very accustomed to that process. Any healthy Christian is.

But…without finding fault?

I’m not sure I can be trusted with such grace. I sin constantly. If God blesses me while I’m sinning, wouldn’t that encourage and enable sin? Wouldn’t it make sense for God to wait until I’m in a strongly obedient position before moving? It’s what I’d do in his position.

But I’m not in his position. And as it does so many times, God’s grace defies my expectations.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

Jesus, having drunk Peter’s fault on the cross, is reinstating him – one forgiveness for every time Peter denied him before the crucifixion. Not just reinstatement, even – promotion. It is understood by theologians that Jesus is appointing Peter to lead his post-ascension church.

This is amazing. Keep in mind that Peter should have incurred the curse of Matthew 10:33 – “…whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” By our best understanding, there is no reason Peter should even have a place in the Book of Life right now. Yet Jesus not only forgives him, he hands him a place of leadership in the coming kingdom!

I would have moved differently. I would have set up for my church leader, not someone who hid and denied him like a coward (talk about a bad example), but someone who stood heroically by Jesus in his darkest hour.

Of course, there was nobody who had stood by him. And perhaps that’s the point – the Passion account echoing our depravity and our total inability to please God on our own.

So God leaned the other way and brought in the Cross to take our fault away.

It is that grace he wants us to learn, his generosity and magnanimity. No more “earn the rain” like the Old Testament. God is flooding his kingdom with almost stubborn favor. The paralytic lowered through the roof is forgiven and healed. A Canaanite woman, strangers to the Law of Moses and its righteousness, has her daughter healed. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The context of this passage is wisdom, of course, but I don’t even deserve that, and the point is not which blessings God offers, but the character of God being revealed.

Do I live as if this were true? Does my view of God reflect the gentle graciousness of James 1:5?

That night, God used James to tap into deep lies in my heart about who God is. Do I really believe he’s gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love (Psalm 103:8)? Or am I constantly waiting for the drop of a cosmic other shoe, making “struck by lightning” jokes? When I come before him in prayer, do I expect him to triple-check my week’s track record like an IRS agent and apportion my daily bread accordingly? Or do I see the God who promoted Peter?

I’m still not sure how all this works in practice. I still believe in the principle of the talents (Luke 19) and wonder how much of his kingdom must genuinely be earned. There were times Jesus had to withhold from people, and there have been times he’s withheld from me.

But he remains, defiantly and freely, a God of grace. Whatever he’s willing to give is up to him, but that generosity is where I’m starting from. May God help me.

Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking

33 thoughts on “God Gives Generously to All – Without Finding Fault???

  1. Brandon, thank you for sharing God’s experience in your life. There is much more to come, and you will be astounded at the grace He continues to pour out. We may be unfaithful, but He is always faithful to His promise and His covenant ~ not dependent on you and me. It is at these times that He witnesses through us of His abundant mercy. Asking for wisdom is proof that He is working in our lives, regardless of our faults. I enjoy your posts! Glad we found you through daddyblitz. The Lord bless you as you continue to ask for and witness of His wisdom. Fran

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  2. Thanks Brandon. Yes, I am grateful for the grace of God. I believe this is the second Peter post that I have read today. God still uses his life to speak to us today, and we do desperately need his wisdom. Thankfully, all we have to do is ask.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thought provoking questions . living bible’s version ” … For he is ALways ready to give bountiful supply of WISDOM to all who ask it & will not resent it .” Makes more sense . Sometimes it comes down to interpretation … A loving GOD vs judgemental God . I opt for the loving God ! Nice writing !

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  4. Amen, Brandon. Mel says, “we don’t read the bible, we let the bible read us.”

    The Lord is not searching our heart like we are felons in court, but more like we are fine athletes in training. He is making us better, strengthening us, like training for a race. Sometimes in that process we discover that what we saw as our flaws, as potential sin, are actually great strengths, gifts He can mold into something wonderful.

    LOL, conversely, sometimes we have a few virtues we think are wonderful and the Lord says, uh yeah, let’s drop that one. It’s really not as “good” as you think it is. Kind of ugly actually. 🙂

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  5. Brandon, something that made me take notice recently was the fact that Jesus is wisdom. He is the manifestation of wisdom and if we turn to him for help, he will open the scriptures to us in ways we never dreamed of. We must always be careful to remember that He holds true wisdom and we can never compare to him.

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  6. I think how we view God’s character is important. Remember the guy who buried his talent in the ground? He said to God, “I knew you you were a harsh taskmaster…” That is how he saw God. God wanted from him what he didn’t have ans couldn’t do. I used to see God the same way. Brandon, it is just an opinion, but I think you need to ask God to help you see him as he really is. Read some books on Righteousness by Faith. There is nothing we can earn. Paul mentions some whose works will be burnt up, yet they will be saved.

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    • Well, you have no idea how time of the year words were. Just this evening I was struggling with the same old Works view of God, and forgetting my own words on the blog. Thanks for bringing me back to them.

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  7. Hi Brandon, I appreciated your honesty in this post. Knowledge is the ability to know or have a good understanding about a given subject, wisdom is the ability to use or act positively on that knowledge. From God’s perspective wisdom is an action word representing righteousness. Jesus personified the knowledge He had/has of His Father through His own actions and words. We see the wisdom that Jesus has in everything He says or does and in essence, He is our example of wisdom, as one of your readers inferred. Remember when Jesus said that He did nothing of Himself but all that He did came from the Father? Remember when Jesus said that without Him we could do nothing? There’s a pattern there. We need Jesus to literally live in us, we need literally to live in Him. In our hearts, minds, souls and strength. I call it a “oneness” where I strive to be mindful of my need for His presence in me every minute of every hour of every day. It is a journey of discovery, of ourselves and Him, and it is meant to be that way. Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Grace and blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You say, “The context of this passage is wisdom, of course,” and that is actually rather important. Unlike Paul, who contrasted worldly wisdom with God’s greater wisdom, James follows the book of Proverbs in using “wisdom” as a synonym for what Paul calls “faith.” How wonderful to realize that, when we feel our faith is lacking, we need only as God for faith, and he gives it, without being offended that we didn’t seem to have enough faith. This reminds me of the father who said to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief.” J.

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