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 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Let me begin with a question: Do any of you reading this blog claim to be wise? I think if we are all honest (and humble), we would have to say we all want to have more wisdom from God in our lives. Well, if you are in that group with me and many others then, James 1:5-7 is for us. James is going to lay out how we get wisdom, but there is something in what he says that addresses a deep problem that we must rid ourselves of in order to receive wisdom and it is this that I would like to talk about and that is doubt.
When you read this passage, did you feel any self-condemnation coming on? Be honest! You see many Christians read this section of scripture and believe it means we just have to push away any of our mental doubts and just believe! If we do, God will give us wisdom. Yep, we can manipulate God through the power of our positive thinking…NOT! This is seriously not about trying to push out negative thoughts (although there is a place for that in the life of a Christian – 2 Corinthians 10:5) but rather the real issue lies in verse 7, where James identifies the doubting person as being ‘double-minded’. James is dealing with a deeper issue which is when a person’s loyalties are divided, and they have not fully sold out to God. The term literally means ‘double-souled’. James is saying these people were double-souled: one side of them wanted to be a believer and may even have acted like a believer most of the time, and the other side was keeping a foot planted firmly in their world that didn’t have Jesus Christ in it.
The reason I know something about being double-minded is because I was just that person for quite a few years in my 30’s. I was a believer, but I also did my own thing. As I think back on that time, it was like walking across a log blind-folded. It was just a matter of time before I fell off. However, God is gracious and kind, and He didn’t leave me there. Someone had told me about Rick Warren’s popular Purpose Driven Life book. I bought a copy and began to read it. I recall sitting in the woods behind my house in Florida reading that book and coming to a deep conviction that I had to either believe the Bible completely or reject it completely. It demanded obedience. There was no fence walking allowed. It suddenly seemed so simple and the result of God opening my mind my double-mindedness began to disappear.
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus said no-one can serve two masters but that eventually, you were going to love one more than the other. We can’t stay in that double-minded state, or we will eventually fall totally away. The good news is we don’t have to, and James once again comes to the rescue with the cure in chapter 4 and verse 8 by stating: “Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” This is done by submitting to God (James 4:7), and humbling ourselves to true repentance (James 4:9-10). It is then, and only then, when God begins to answer that prayer for wisdom and many other good gifts He has for us.