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What Does “Upbraideth Not” Mean in James 1:5?

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For Latter-day Saints, James 1:5 holds special significance and meaning—not only does this simple verse illustrate the type of relationship we can have with God, but it inspired the Prophet Joseph Smith to pray to God and ushered in a miraculous era of restoration and revelation. 

 

James 1:5 reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

We generally focus on what this verse teaches us about prayer. If we have questions, we can ask of God and He will answer us! 

However, there is a description of how God will answer our prayers that we often overlook. God says that he will give to all men “liberally” and “upbraideth not.” What does “upbraideth not” mean and what does it teach us about the nature of God? 

Upbraideth means to severely criticize. The church describes the word as meaning to rebuke, criticize or find fault with.

As we talk a look at other Bible translations, the meaning becomes even clearer. 

New Living Translation

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

New International Version

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.

Common English Bible

But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.

The Passion Translation

And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace.

Have you ever felt nervous to approach God? Maybe you thought the things of your heart were silly or that you should understand more than you do. This verse speaks to God’s patience and love. 

He doesn’t seek to make us feel small or stupid. Even when we continually struggle to understand, He continually invites us to come to Him until we do. We can pray to Him in confidence and hope. 

We also learn the importance of seeking wisdom and understanding from James 1:5. It isn’t just about asking for blessings. We shouldn’t just give God a long list of requests when we pray. We can ask to become aligned with His will and ask for the eyes to see His purposes and plans. 

Just as Joseph received an answer to his prayer after reading this scripture, we can communicate with our loving Heavenly Father and receive the wisdom we need. 

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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