Journeying through James, 1:8

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)

Why should a person “suppose that he will not receive anything from the Lord?” That’s a really strong statement and seems so hard to understand. Isn’t God’s favor unearned and unmerited? James wrote in verse 5, that the same Lord “gives generously to all without reproach,” so how are we to understand this? James’ primary concern here is that we would ask God for wisdom and not doubt that the Lord will give it to us. He’s saying that doubting gets in the way of receiving the goodness and blessings that God has for us.

He knows that doubting makes our love for Jesus, and for His followers, grow cold. James was Jesus’ brother. John tells us about him: “But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, 3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! 4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him” John 7:2‑5 (NLT). It’s hard to imagine that James went from such cold-hearted indifference to ardent belief. He knows firsthand that doubting makes us indifferent and even hostile to the kind and loving Jesus.

Doubting can lead to not seeing the amazing miracles that could happen in our lives. For example: “Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” 58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” Matthew 13:54‑58 (NIV). Even today, everyone has an opinion about who Jesus is, but those who simply put their faith in Him will see Him do good things in their lives.

So, James really knows what he’s talking about. He’s come full circle in understanding and appreciating who Jesus is; and he doesn’t want anyone to miss that. It might not seem apparent upon first reading his epistle, but James is very understanding and compassionate toward others in their struggles to believe and follow Jesus.