Journeying through James, 1:7-8

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6But 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. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5‑8 (ESV)

Many times in James, his words are right to the point; they are so direct that it’s difficult for people to hear them. I think the hearers have to make a choice to not listen to their human pride and guilt and rather to have an open mind to what God is saying. Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, human beings have considered themselves as the fourth member of the Trinity and can become easily offended if God says, “Don’t do that; do this!”. By nature, we don’t like people correcting us, but ironically, we can’t really see what’s best for us.

James’ words in verses 7-8 are like the words of a friend trying to help us understand two important points. One, God has a good and perfect will for us, that is ours for the asking. Two, our human nature doesn’t want to submit to God and therefore it is a battle for us to ask, to follow and to be at peace with what God would direct us to do. James is focusing in on the inherent internal struggle that Christians face. The word for “double-minded” in Koinè Greek literally means ‘to have two souls’, namely we have the Old Adam and Spirit of God dwelling within us. The Apostle Paul described this struggle very clearly in Galatians 5:17: “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (NLT).

Let’s say you and your spouse are trying to decide which takeout food you want this evening. You leave the house without a firm decision, but with a couple of options in mind. You finally settle on one, and of course, you don’t take away anything from the other two, except the thought, “Well, maybe next time we’ll stop there.” Isn’t that how most people approach wisdom and input from God? It doesn’t always occur to us that God wants us to ask Him for wisdom, and to listen to Him, and to follow His wisdom, continually. This is vital, not just a good option that we might try next time.

James focuses on our need to receive God’s direction, and he fully understanding our inherent desire not to. He concentrates on certain “problem areas” into which God must speak so that our Christian lives would give glory to His name. What’s interesting about James is that the book highlights only certain personal faith and social issues; also, the topics he picks are applicable to believers of any culture or time period. He assumes that a believer will ask for God’s direction. In verse 7‑8, he’s basically saying, “Don’t think twice or be offended about what I have to say.” God’s not against us; He’s for us. In verse 6, above, he explained that if you ask for wisdom, God’s not going to bring up what a failure you are. He “gives generously to all without reproach.” In Christ, the Lord sees you completely and thoroughly cleansed us from all sin. Let us then make it our goal in life to come to Him and receive from Him. God will generously give!