“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1: 5-8 (NKJV).
It is important to know how to ask for wisdom. The Christian must be sure of both the power and the desire of God to give. A person must not ask in doubt. If one asks in doubt, one's mind is like the waves of the sea, driven back and forth by any chance wind.
If the experiences of life are to produce character in us, we must ask wisdom from God. Jesus underscored that those who ask for wisdom will receive it when He said, “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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11: 13). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom, and yet frequently Christians seek to live without His guidance. But Jesus reminds us that just as a responsible parent is happy to see his child coming to him in trust, so God is pleased with us when we approach Him in such anticipation. Our faith in asking is based on this characteristic of our Heavenly Father. What a contrast is the “double-minded” person! Such a one will be uncertain about everything, uncertain of principles and always wondering and hesitant about what to do. Opinions and decisions will be always vacillating and dependent on what others think, but without the possibility of ever coming to concrete conclusions.
In fact, it is understandable that James uses rebuke-laden language in referring to the doubter. A double-minded person denies the very nature of God as a loving parent who delights in giving good things to His children. Jesus pointed out that human fathers know enough to give good gifts to their children (Luke 11: 11-13); a doubter does not even give God that much credit. The double-minded person is “unstable in all he does” because he or she refuses to be committed to God and, for lack of an anchor in Him, is “blown and tossed by the wind.” Spiritual wavering comes when we see the problems all too well and the Savior all too little.
James uses this negative example to introduce the idea that real faith is always made evident in a person's actions. The one who, confident in God's desire to give generously without finding fault, petitions Him boldly is acting upon Hebrews 11: 6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
The opposite, of course, is a single-minded person who wholeheartedly trusts in God. Even when difficulties come, such a person proves the Word of God to be true.
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