There once was a young man who lived under a bridge. This man made poor decisions in life which landed him in his place of humiliation. This man owned nothing except the clothes on his back and the worn out New Testament in his back pocket that his mom gave him on his seventh birthday. Twenty years later many would tell him because of his situation that he should read that book more often. He would simply smile with his few remaining teeth he had and say, “You are probably right.” Some people called him crazy because he always talked about God as if he was some imaginary friend right beside him. The tone in his voice as he spoke of his Friend was usually elevated, seasoned with excitement, as if he was truly joyful deep within, yet aware that his life was full of trials.
There was another man who had a simple home, an affordable car, a respectable low paying job. He read his Bible every night before going to bed, finishing with a simple prayer of thanksgiving to God for all of his blessings. He never really spoke of God during the day unless prodded to do so. This man always seemed to be at peace, never desiring more in life. He appeared to be content with what he had, never longing for the next bigger and better thing.
There was a mom who had a couple young sons. These children drove her crazy. They would not pick up after themselves, always demanded attention, and were a bit much at times. Never the less, she soaked in every memory of them, each one as if it was a gift from God. She didn’t long for them to pursue higher education or to make the big bucks, she simply desired that they grew up to be humble men of God. Every morning as she woke up before the boys, she would thank God for them and then ask for the strength to nurture them in the way they ought to go.
Even to this day the mom continues her prayers for her sons, long after they have left the home, one to live under a bridge, and the other to live in a simple home, knowing that God has answered her and has exalted her and each one of her boys.
he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
The one who asks God for wisdom but doubts that God will give him wisdom is double-minded. Doubting seems like typical human behavior when we have a request. We ask for things in hope that we will receive what we ask for. There are times we are told no, there are times we are told maybe, and there are times we are told yes. Asking the government to relieve you of your tax burden – No. Asking your parents for a loan for a down payment on your first house – Maybe. But asking God for wisdom – Yes.
What are the two minds? Paul says they are the old nature and the new nature. Jesus says we must be born again of water and the Spirit. James is revealing that the born again believer with the mind of Christ and the old self with the depraved mind are at odds with each other causing a person to become unstable. The new self wants to fully trust while the old self thrives off of doubt and fear. The Christian who does not fully trust is unstable in all his ways, never fully knowing what it means to trust as he walks in the will of God.
We should not see God through the eyes of man. The double minded man (Dipsychos in greek) asks God then wonders if God will grant him his request. It seems only natural to wonder, yet James points out for the person who has been tried and tested, he is a person of faith and this faith should always rule his thinking. Therefore when God says, “ask for wisdom and I will give it”, there should be no consideration of doubt, rather we should emulate what Jesus said in Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
According to verse 7, does the one who doubts in verse 6 receive wisdom if he asks for it? To say no is to disprove the premise of verse 6, that God gives generously to those who ask, giving without reproach. Does God give without reproach even to the doubter? The one in the mindset of doubt will say no, the one in the mindset of faith says yes, that God upholds his promises and I believe it.
Turn the coin over. What if this isn’t a God problem. What if the problem in receiving wisdom lies within the fallen nature of man? Now that seems more plausible. God, being perfect, fulfills his promises while man, being flawed and needing to renew his mind, may not see that he has received the promise due to the obscurity he has in the mind as a result of the fallen nature.
We like to blame shift, but on this one, I see a man problem, not a God problem. This is why James says that the doubter should not suppose (think, believe, imagine) that he has received, not just wisdom, but anything from God. This person who is doubting needs a reset of the mind. He needs to stop operating out of two psychosis. This man needs to operate fully from the new self, which is driven by the knowledge of Christ in him.
Therefore when one doubts, one needs to stop thinking all together about the relation between God and his blessings and refocus on the elementary principle of the Gospel, that he needs to repent, i.e. change his mind.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
According to James, people can be like waves. Therefore I went to the pet store and asked to buy a pet wave. They laughed me out of the store. So I went to my front yard and caught one. He was just sitting there doing nothing. In fact there were a whole bunch of them surrounding my koi. The wave was easy to catch, let me tell you. I snuck up on him like a tiger in eager patience for his next dinner. When I sprung, I landed right on him and put him straight into his 20 oz cage. I immediately named him Splash and we started training. My first trick was to teach Splash to sit. Unfortunately, the moment I let him out of his cage he fell apart and became divided and was no more.
The doubting man is like a wave of the sea. He is driven and tossed by anything and everything that comes his way because he has no ability to be controlled from within. James says that wind will toss the wave around. It doesn’t take just wind to move water, a boat can cut a wave in half, likewise a sea gull can cause a wave to also be disturbed.
When one doubts, he does not operate from the power of faith in him which has the ability to control and steady him in the trials of life. Like a wave he is controlled by external circumstances that toss him around. Therefore he needs to return to belief and trust that God has given him the wisdom he needs to continue in his trial.
Now to go catch me a gust of wind. “(Whistle, Whistle), Come here Breeze.”
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
“Excuse me sir, I just realized I left my moisturizing body wash and my head soap at home, and I used all of the complimentary hygenical supplies in my suite. Do you have any more I can have? I really need some. I am starting to smell and the other guests are beginning to notice.” With eyes rolling, “I am so tired of you people coming un-prepared to my hotel. I give away free bottles of shampoo all day long to people like you who do not know how to plan for a trip. Here! Enjoy!”
James makes sure you know (through repetition of a similar idea) that God, unlike the perturbed hotel employee, happily gives wisdom to all who ask by saying he gives generously without reproach.
The transition from the trials and testing James talks about to needing wisdom is logical. James is letting you know that there is purpose in your hard circumstance, but you will need the wisdom of Christ to know the purpose in it. But do not be ignorant, he has already alluded to the purpose by using the words “trials” and “testing”. These words are similar and are used to reveal the true nature or character of someone. Therefore you need wisdom to see that the trials and test are revealing your new life that is being lived out by faith.
We will not return to the hotel who treats us as if we are fools, on the other hand we look forward to our next visit to the hotel who treats us with compassion, giving generously without reproach, all of our needs for a comfortable night’s rest.
James point; return to God often asking for what you need to traverse your trial in order that steadfastness will grow, and he will give it. Do not doubt that!