This week in our Faith/Works series, we are looking at James 1:5-8. Here in this passage James tells us that if we need wisdom, we should ask God who will give it generously. It is God’s character to give generously to us. Jesus talks about this too:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!Matthew 7:7-11
God gives good gifts! But then James starts talking about how if we doubt we shouldn’t expect to get anything. I struggled with that this week. I have had doubts before, and I’m sure you have as well. That’s when I need God’s wisdom all the more! Why would He not give it if I doubt? What does James mean by doubt?
Doubt has two main definitions: the first – to be uncertain about – and the second – to distrust. If I am uncertain about something, that’s when I need God’s wisdom. But James probably means to distrust. His word picture in verse 6 supports that definition. “He is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” Think of the way water moves in the ocean or on the Great Lakes. Up and down. Here and there. Never still. Never at peace. The doubter is unstable and double-minded (or as KPaul says double-souled).
As I was studying I found out that this word for double-minded is in James and nowhere else in the New Testament. He uses it here and in chapter 4:
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God…Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.James 4:4-8
Double-minded means serving two masters. Remember in the gospels when Jesus says you can’t serve both God and money? (See Matthew 6:24.) James says the same thing. We can’t be friends of the world and still be friends of God. We have to pick. If our loyalties are divided, if we distrust God, we can’t hear the wisdom God has to give us.
KPaul gave us three action steps to find wisdom: ask God; believe and stay; and trust God. The doubter in James doesn’t trust God. His or her loyalties are divided. This is a problem for perseverance as well. If we don’t trust God that perseverance is leading to better things for us, why persevere?
So where are your loyalties? Are you with God no matter your circumstances? Are you on God’s side, trusting that he will give you the wisdom you need? If you doubt, God won’t find fault or reproach you when you ask for wisdom, but you aren’t going to be able to receive the wisdom that he is so generously wanting to give you.
So pick a side! Don’t be unstable like the water in the ocean not knowing where it is going. Ask God for wisdom, trusting that he will provide it generously because He loves you.