James 1:5-8 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.
Have you ever needed wisdom to know how to handle a situation and then asked God for it, but then went about your own way trying to deal with the problem in your own understanding? I think we’ve all been guilty of doing that. We pray and then immediately go out and try to solve the problem through our own way of thinking and acting. Sometimes, we don’t even give God time to answer the prayer. It’s almost as if we have already made up our minds to do it a certain way, but we need to do our “duty” in praying for wisdom so even though we know what we’re going to do we “cover” ourselves by praying. James says here that when we ask for wisdom we can know that God will give it! It’s an assurance that He wants to give us the wisdom that we need to solve our problem. But there’s a condition to receiving that wisdom…..we must ask in faith, without doubting! Hmmm…..that changes things, doesn’t it?
Ask – Greek word aiteo – Strong’s #154 – means to request, petition. The word usually describes a suppliant making request of someone in a higher position, such as an individual asking something from God, a subject from a king, a child from a parent, or a beggar from a person of substance. The word denotes insistent asking without qualms, not “commanding” God, but solidly presenting a requisition whose items He longs to distribute.
I like the last line of that definition “the word denotes insistent asking without qualms….”. We ask God because He wants us to come to Him for wisdom. We don’t have to worry that we will not be received; He is waiting for us to ask; “….not “commanding” God, but solidly presenting a requisition whose items He longs to distribute.” This statement reminds me of my years in the mortgage lending business. I often distributed funds from construction loans where it was needed to pay for work that had been done. The funds were waiting to be distributed. It’s like having a checking account. In the banking industry a checking account is known as a “demand deposit account”. When you write a check you are making a demand on the deposit in that account. When I paid funds out of a construction loan I made demands on the funds that were available in that loan. God’s wisdom is available to us for the asking. We make “demands”, not as in demanding that God do it, but as in making a request on the deposit that we have in Christ Jesus. He is waiting for us to make a demand on His wisdom so He can fulfill the request!
We often don’t give Him time to send the “funds”. But if we don’t ask in faith we really don’t believe that He will answer so we rush out and do it “our way”. We subconsciously doubt that He will give us what we have requested of Him.
Doubting – Greek word diakrino – Strong’s #1252 Has two definitions: 1) To judge thoroughly; to decide between two or more choices; to make a distinction; to separate two components, elements, or factors; to render a decision; to evaluate carefully. 2) the word also connotes a conflict with oneself, in the sense of hesitating, having misgivings, doubting, being divided in decision making, or wavering between hope and fear.
In this verse of scripture, using the illustration of the one doubting being like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind, I would say that the 2nd definition is the one in which James is referring. Ocean waves, when tossed by the wind, move in different directions, one going this way and another a different way. The one who doubts is driven by their emotions; sometimes having hope that God will do what He has promised and other times being fearful that He will not come through for him. This causes a division in the mind, a mental conflict and a hesitation in believing God for what they have requested of Him. Faith and fear cannot co-exist. You either have one or the other.
James goes on to say that the person who doubts cannot receive anything from the Lord, because he is a double-minded man and is unstable in all his ways.
Wow, that’s quite a statement! What does it mean to be double-minded? A double-minded man is a person who is drawn in two different directions. One minute he’s believing God and the next minute he’s wondering if God’s word is really true, did he really hear God correctly and will God really do what He has promised. James says this person is not only unstable in his prayer life, but his instability portrays a lack of consistency in all areas of his life. He is unstable in all his ways; emotions rule and reign in his life, when God’s word should be the deciding factor in which direction he takes.
So, how can we become “stable” in all our ways so we can be people of faith, not doubt? I am reminded of the story in John 20 where Jesus addresses Thomas’ inability to believe. We get the name “doubting Thomas” from this story.
John 20:24-25 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
Notice that Thomas said he had to see to believe; not just that it was needed for him to believe, but that he would not believe until he saw and felt the scars in Jesus’ hands and side. “I will not believe”, he said. He was using his choice to believe or not believe to be ruled by what he saw; the sense realm.
But Thomas had an encounter with the Lord Jesus and this is what the Lord said to him:
John 20:26-29 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus said it took Thomas’ seeing in order for him to believe. There can be two camps in the realm of believers: those who have to see to believe, which I refer to as “unbelieving believers” and those who, by faith believe what God has said without having to see it first. Thomas was an example of an unbelieving believer. His realm of belief only went so far. He knew the Lord, was one of His disciples so he had been around Him, had seen the miracles that Jesus had performed and yet when it came time for Jesus to be out of his sight, he couldn’t draw on what he knew to be true to enable him to believe without seeing it happen in the natural.
We can be like Thomas and have to see to believe or we can be as Jesus said “more blessed” because we believe without seeing. The foundation for our belief comes from what God has said in His word. The truth and the yardstick of our measurements should be what we read in God’s word, what He speaks to us through His Spirit and what we know of His character and nature. When we base our belief on Him and His word we will become “stable”, fixed and unwavering.
It was said of Abraham that he believed even when it appeared to be untrue because of what he saw in his body and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
Romans 4:18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”
He believed, even when it didn’t look like it would be possible, because he put his trust in what God had said, what He had spoken to him.
Romans 4:19-21 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being full convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
Abraham’s success came through his faith in God’s ability to perform what He had promised. He knew that God would do what He said, even when the natural ability to bring it into existence where he and Sarah where concerned was not there. The reality of the promise did not rest on his or Sarah’s age or his ability to perform sexually, but it rested on God’s ability to perform. Faith believes God, not what is seen, felt or thought through the senses of man. Stability in our faith walk comes through hearing the Word of God, believing it and acting on it.
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Do you need wisdom from God to know how to live life successfully? Ask Him and then believe and act on what He says! Allow your faith to be grounded in what He says in His word, not what you see around you. Faith grows just like a muscle, through use. If you can’t believe God to provide for your monthly bills, how can you believe for a new house, new car, or a multimillion dollar ministry? If you can’t believe for the healing of a headache, how can you believe for supernatural healing of a terminal illness? You begin small and as you exercise your faith and hear more of the word of God, your faith grows and you are then more stable and have the ability to believe for bigger challenges. There are no limitations to a person’s faith ability! God will take you to wherever you exercise the faith in believing. He will be to you everything that you can believe Him to be.
Just as Jesus said to the synagogue ruler whose daughter died before Jesus got to his house to lay His hands on her for healing:
Luke 8:50 But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.”
Jesus challenged the ruler to look away from the negative report that he had just received and look unto Him in faith believing that what He said He would do and his daughter would be made well, which included being raised from the dead! Jesus said she was just “sleeping”, not dead! Faith moves beyond the natural into the supernatural!
What do you need to believe about your life today? Is is for healing, financial provision, wisdom to know how to move in a certain situation? Whatever it is, God has it for you! Will you believe Him today?
Father, I thank You for the wisdom You have for us for the asking. I thank You for being a God who longs to give to His children what they have need of. Thank You for not withholding any good thing from us as Your children. Thank You for being faithful to Your word so that we can place our trust in what You say and know that You will perform what You have promised. Father, I pray that our faith will be strengthened as we read and study Your word and listen to Your voice. I pray that we will find our stability for faith in You, through hearing and practicing Your word in our lives for the little things so we can believe for the bigger things that You have promised. Thank You for not giving up on us but for being patient in helping us to grow and be rooted and established in You so we can walk by faith and not by sight! May we be blessed in believing without having to see first. Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer. I believe I receive when I pray in Jesus’ name! Amen.