Most of us are happy to talk about our strengths, but are hesitant to discuss our weaknesses. We like to show off what we have, but are afraid to admit what we lack. Instead, we try to overcompensate for our weaknesses or things we lack. We try to substitute something other than what’s needed with what we have hoping it will be enough. Instead of seeking out help or someone with strengths in the areas of our weaknesses, we try to make due what what we have and try to do it on our own.We forget that it’s in our weakness that He is made strong and in our lack that He becomes our Jehovah Jireh.
I love the story of when Solomon became king. In 1 Kings 3, God told Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted. He immediately thanked God for His kindness to his father David. When he thought of his father, he didn’t think of the ways he was better than him. Instead, he saw where he wasn’t up to the task and was inexperienced. He admitted as much to the Lord and asked for wisdom to govern better than he ever could on his own. Because he didn’t ask for things that accentuated his strengths or would feed his ego, God was pleased. It took humility to admit his weakness and even courage to ask for help in those areas. God gave him wisdom, but He also gave him things he didn’t even ask for in order to bless him.
Have you thought much about your weaknesses or the things you lack? What have you been doing to overcompensate? James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (NLT). I love the last part in the Passion Translation. It says, “He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures.” We’ve become so afraid to admit our weaknesses or the things we lack because we’re afraid of being scolded or made fun of. However it’s only when we admit it that we can ask Him for help, and God doesn’t withhold good things from those who have integrity (Psalm 84:11). James 4:2 reminds us that we have not because we ask not. Take time today to think about what you need in order to do what He’s called you to do, and ask God for it. I know that He will give it to you.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been taught that Solomon asked God for wisdom. I tried looking up the scripture where he asked God for “wisdom”, but the Bible doesn’t put it that way. In I Kings 3:9, Solomon asked God for an understanding heart so he could judge the people well. In essence he was asking for wisdom, but as I dug deeper, he wanted more than just wisdom. He wanted to do well in God’s sight and to care for His people.
When I looked up the word “understanding” as it was used in this context, it had three meanings. The first was to hear. Solomon wanted a heart that could hear not only God, but what others were saying too. He didn’t want to just rely on what his ears heard, he wanted to really hear what people meant. Wisdom comes in not just hearing what is spoken. It comes when we can discern the true intent of the words spoken.
The next meaning of “understanding” was to listen. Almost everyone is born with the ability to hear, but only a few ever learn to listen. I believe that God is always speaking to us. We hear Him, but we don’t really listen to what it is that He’s telling us or showing us. Solomon was concerned about the ability of his heart to listen to God. He wanted God to know that he understood the only way to truly govern the people well would be if He could listen to His voice.
The third meaning of “understanding” in this context is to obey. It’s not enough to hear or listen to God. We have to obey what He tells us. I’m sure that Solomon had been told of Saul’s disobedience and of God’s response in I Samuel 15:22. Obedience is better than sacrifice. God is more concerned with our obedience to His word than in our obedience to religious rituals. Anyone can walk through the motions of a ritual, but only the wisest among us obey a God at all costs.
Wisdom was a by product of what he truly wanted. Hearing the voice of God, listening to what He really said and acting on it from his heart is what made Solomon truly wise. You and I can experience that wisdom. Solomon’s request for an understanding heart is one that you and I can ask for today. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.” God would love to give each of us the wisdom that comes from an understanding heart.
Have you ever wished God would tell you, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you”? Think about that. What would your answer be? How much time would you take to answer that question? Would your answer benefit just you or would it benefit others? If God promised to give you anything you wanted, that would be a big deal. Personally, I’d be afraid of giving the wrong answer, but in this situation, there really isn’t one.
I asked you that question, because that’s exactly what God asked Solomon in I Kings 3:5. Solomon had just sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings to the Lord and God visited him that night with that question and promise. The Bible doesn’t say how long Solomon took with his answer. What he asked for has stayed with me my whole life. The final part of his answer in verse 9 was, “Give me the wisdom I need to rule your people with justice and to know the difference between good and evil. Otherwise, how would I ever be able to rule this great people of yours?” (GNT)
Solomon had some big shoes to fill being king after David. He recognized that he needed help in ruling the people, so he asked for wisdom. One of the biggest things that stands out to me is that God asked him what he wanted and he answered with what he needed. There’s a big difference there. Our wants are usually different from our needs. I may want a Lamborghini, but what I need is a reliable car to get from A to B.
Let’s go back to your answer to the question. Was it a want or a need? What about your normal prayer time? Is it a list of needs or wants? I think it’s ok to ask God for the wants, but when people ask for their needs, God goes above and beyond. II Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others” (NLT). When God gives what we need, it’s enough to share. So the real question is, do you want what you need or need what you want?