James 1:5-8 states,
“5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But 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.”
This verse has often bothered me. We are told that when we ask God for wisdom, then He lavishly pours it out on us – without fault. The problem for me was verse 6 and 7. These two verses talk about asking in faith and without doubt and I know that for many requests that I have made, especially ones during trials, I have been a mess of confusion and doubt has certainly been present.
While my level of doubt may not have been high, it has still been present – even if only at the level of a mere hairline.
Yet this has bothered me. If I only have a hairlines level of doubt if I were asking for wisdom during a trial, was I to be regarded in such strong terms?
“… 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.”
Was I to be regarded as unstable in all his ways just because of the presence of a drop of doubt?
~ Apparently I have misunderstood this verse and in particular I have misunderstood what it means to be double-minded. Here is a good explanation from some commentaries that shed light on the matter.
1) Douglas Moo in his commentary titled The Letter of James.
“The Greek word for double-minded is dipsychos, which is literally translated ‘double-souled.'” ~ pg. 62
2) A person who has their “soul divided between faith and the world.”
~ A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle of St. James by James Ropes pg. 143
3) “This verse sheds further light on the original question of who is a doubter and what it means to be double-minded: these are people who are unwilling to let go of the world and truly follow Christ, torn between sin and obedience, reluctant to let go of the pleasures of the world for the sake of discipleship. …”
~ James (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) by by Clinton E. Arnold, Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell, pg. 54