Are you a Doubter? James 1:5-8
This is the second in a series of Life Lessons from the Book of James. In the previous hub James 1:1-4 ...( just four verses) the topic was: Be Joyful in the midst of trials. Did it surprise you to find how much can be gleaned from just four verses?
In James 1-4 you will find seven simple steps for Bible Study, which I have utilized for this study.
Meaningful Minutes with Chuck Swindoll
Ask Without Doubting
Vs. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
Vs. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Vs. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;
Vs. 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
The Who's Considered
James is writing under the inspiration of God. I learned this from II Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." So, though we know that James is the tool God used; This message is actually from God Himself.
In our last study we learned that this letter, written by James was to the 12 tribes that were scattered abroad. Though this was very long ago ... its application is not dated because God's truth never changes. "For I am the Lord, I do not change." Malachi 3:6
To set the stage and to keep our interpretation in context we need to look back at what we studied in the previous verses. In James 1:1-4 We read that trials are an opportunity for Joy. As we begin to examine the next four verses; we know that 'asking God' for wisdom refers back to trials.
I will list one verse at a time and share what I hear from God - putting the verse and all the thoughts they evoke into my own words.
Verse 5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."
If we lack wisdom about the trial or hardship we are going through .. we need to ask God who is generous and He will give us insight. He wants us to come ... don't be afraid He won't find fault in your request.
Verse 6 "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
The idea of asking encompasses much more than a simple request. When we ask God for wisdom there must be a belief so strong that you have NO doubt that God will answer. James compares doubting to a wave of the sea, The word picture he presents conjures up an image of a wave (with no backbone) being controlled by the wind. The wind is shoving it and tossing it all over the place.
This picture of the wave speaks to me of weakness. It seems the wave has no direction or stability. It is subject to the wind (circumstances.) The winds fall upon the waves with ferocity and it sweeps away any hint of sincerity or belief in the request. When we doubt we ask by rote but we do not really believe God will answer. There is no strength .. no security in this imitation of a true request. Doubting allows the 'wind' or outside influences to control us and dictate our belief.
Verse 7 "That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;"
Why pray for wisdom if you don't believe God will grant it to you? Make no mistake, the person who asks and then doubts will not receive what he has asked. Do not fool yourself by thinking 'maybe' God will answer. If God is who He says He is .. He cannot lie ... He will answer.
Verse 8 "he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."
The one who wavers in his belief is unstable with a divided loyalty between God and the world; he cannot expect to receive anything from God. When I think of someone who is double-minded I picture people who are not really sure of what they believe.
The double minded person has one foot in the world and one foot in what he understands to be Christianity. It is the person who goes to Church and for the moment is convinced that God is real and He answers prayers. The next week the wild winds of circumstances throws him a curve. He is battered by the circumstances and sinks into hopelessness. He may ask God to help but he doesn't believe He will answer. .
You either have faith and total trust that the Lord God hears and answers your prayer for wisdom or you don't fully believe that He hears or answers. We cannot have Faith and doubt at the same time .. that is double minded and false faith. The person who doubts is unstable in all of his ways.
Step 6: Application - What Does it Mean to Me?
James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."
There it is right in front of me, a verse I learned as a teen. This precious verse instructing me to go to God for wisdom. I accepted Christ and I KNOW His word is TRUTH, so why didn't I act on that truth when He made it very clear?
When trials have come my way I have over and over again failed the test of going to God for wisdom. Oh, I eventually get there, by the grace of God, however for the most part it has taken me much too long to ask God for wisdom.
I have thought too much of my own wisdom ... only to find out how dumb I really am. I have networked and resourced to find answers ... only to come up empty and find God waiting for me to ask Him. I have made some serious decisions, thinking my motives were pure, but without asking God for wisdom ... only to suffer grave consequences (God's discipline). "For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child." Hebrews 12:6 These consequences come from my loving Father who patiently leads me to a place I see my own foolishness. I repent and turn to Him ... trusting Him and Him alone to give wisdom.
I have spent too many years thinking ... I can get through this ... I'll figure it out. God has opened my eyes to allow me to see that I have leaned on my own understanding more than I have trusted God. I say this with deep regret yet knowing that I am forgiven and that He is the faithful potter who continually is at work in me, the clay. "Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." ...Isa. 64:8
A few years back I went through a nightmare of many trials that sapped the strength right out of me. One of the resulting factors was financial devastation. I was looking at the third Christmas that I could not buy gifts for my precious Grandchildren.
One morning the grief hit me like a boulder slamming down on my chest. I cried (literally) out to God for insight and wisdom. Later that day as I was walking at the Mall for exercise; I looked over at a store I used to frequent and with sadness thought "I remember when I used to shop there." Like lightening the Holy Spirit spoke to me saying,... so Susie, you want to go back to Egypt do you? I gasped with recognition of His message regarding my circumstances.
I had asked for wisdom and that very day He answered in an undeniable way. As God's message sunk in I sent up a quick prayer and said, "I've got it Lord, no I do not want to go back to Egypt I will follow you in the desert." The burden lifted and I thanked Him for leading me through my wilderness journey.
Looking back I see the blessing hidden in the trial. There were no gifts under the tree but the whole family buoyed me up by assuring me, "Christmas is NOT about gifts Mom." During those financially bleak years instead of giving gifts we built gingerbread houses, we creatively told the Christmas Story to our captivated grand-kids, we worked with our hands making home-made crafts, the kids worked together (all on their own) to put on a Christmas Pageant .. not one grandchild complained. Those were the BEST Christmas's we ever had and an invaluable lesson was learned by all. It's not about the gifts - It's Jesus birthday and a time to celebrate as a family.
James 1:6 "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." When I pray and ask God for something, I must have Faith with NO doubts. Time spent in study of God's word builds my Faith. Here is what God says, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Romans 10:17 As I read God's word firm conviction of His power and truth are cemented in my heart. Apart from God I am blown around by the circumstances of life ... just like that wave with no conviction or direction.
James 1:7 "That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;" God says that if I doubt Him and His ability and desire to answer my requests then I am just fooling myself with 'words' said in a prayer. Heart checks and yielding to God's will puts me in a place to trust Him and believe He not only hears but He answers my Faith Prayer.
James 1:8 "He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" When my heart is fixed on God, I am single minded Just as Col. 3:1-4 describes: "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."
I praise God for not giving up on me. I am so thankful for His patience and continual work in my life. I pray I will grow stronger in my faith and that I bring glory to His name.
About John MacArthur
I recommend John MacArthur's Commentaries. John MacArthur is my husbands all time favorite Bible Teacher.
He is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. MacArthur is also president of The Master’s College and Seminary and the featured teacher with "Grace to You" media ministry.
Grace to You radio, video, audio, print, and website resources reach millions worldwide each day.
John has written dozens of bestselling books over four decades of ministry including The MacArthur Study Bible, The Gospel According to Jesus, The New Testament Commentary series, The Truth War, and The Jesus You Can’t Ignore.
I have featured some of his works on the right. Included is a commentary on the book of James.
John MacArther and his wife, Patricia, have four married children and fifteen grandchildren.
What's Your Status - James 1:9-11
What's your Status? Are you Rich or Poor? James is addressing both groups as he explains that Status in this world's eyes means nothing in the light of eternity.
Please join in and share what God is teaching you.
I'd love to hear from you and I can assure you that if you invest yourself in His word you will gain understanding and it will change your life.