Today’s text is James 1:5-8. You can catch up on earlier day(s) of Jump Start below.
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.
You Will Need Wisdom
Even though James writes “if any of you lack wisdom” he obviously knows we all need wisdom to progress into real, active faith. As a major theme of James, wisdom is much more than knowing facts about God and the life he desires us to live. Instead, wisdom is the maturity that a Christian acquires and develops as they deepen their relationship with God and the knowledge and courage to then live out that real, active faith.
James is wonderfully simple: if you don’t have wisdom you need to live out a real, active faith…ASK.
What Kind of God is God?
That’s a huge question. Ask several Christians that question and you’ll no doubt get varying answers but can you imagine what kind of answers you’d get if you asked several atheists? Or several agnostics (people who simply don’t care if God exists because even if he does then that God clearly doesn’t care about them?)
James helps us understand what kind of God we serve. We ask for wisdom from “the God who gives.” In Greek, James uses the present participle, “the giving God,” which means giving wisdom is not something God does just once or something God did in the past but doesn’t do anymore. It is a continuous action meaning that God is (and always will be) gladly giving wisdom to those who ask.
We can trust this giving God because we have nothing to be afraid of when we ask since he gives “without reproach.” No hesitation. No mocking. God doesn’t even think once about making fun of your request. There’s no chance you’ll get shut down so why not ask?
How Do We Ask God for Wisdom?
Verse 6 teaches us to ask in faith. This is not the initial faith (justification) in Jesus that transforms us from death to life in Christ. This faith is the every day work of believing God is who he says he is and he’ll do what he says he’ll do. Much easier said than done.
James claims that the one who can’t ask for wisdom in this way, “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown by the wind and tossed about.” This might be one of the most misinterpreted verses in the entire Bible.
Doubt is not an enemy of faith. Silence is. If you have hard questions about faith, ask them! Find a friend or a pastor…better yet, talk to God about them!
James does not tell believers to never doubt God or have questions about his nature or activity in the world. Instead, James wants to warn a believer that if they lack wisdom, they should not spend their lifetime doubting the character of the loving God who is ready to generously give that very wisdom they seek without hesitation.
Doubt can help our faith grow but endless doubting squashes faith.
What does a life of endless doubting provide?
- The endless doubter lives a life of chaos. (v.6)
Don’t miss this: the endless doubter isn’t tossed by the sea. The endless doubter is the sea.
Have you ever been to the beach and just watched the waves? They are nothing like the coloring book pages where the waves are all the same size and perfectly aligned in a row. Even when the ocean is not in a storm, the waves are unstable and irregular. It’s partly why surfing is so hard because even on a calm day, some waves are bigger than others. Some are small, seemingly unassuming, but others are big, crashing with tremendous force. The endless doubter lives a life of perpetual chaos.
- The endless doubter gets nothing from God. (v. 7)
A person unwilling to deal with sin is even more unwilling to trust the God who could grant them the wisdom they need to develop real, active faith. They doesn’t add up to much of a relationship with God.
- The endless doubter is consistently inconsistent. (v.8)
He is “double-minded” – incredibly unsure. Remember, James is all about active faith. So a double-minded person isn’t just conflicted in their thoughts but their actions are inconsistent as well. In fact, that inconsistency is the only constant in their life.
Double-minded people try and live two separate lives instead of committing their whole life to Jesus Christ. This echoes back to Jesus teaching on the Sermon on the Mount, “No one can serve two masters, for he will hate the one and love the other.” – Matthew 6:24
Questions for Prayer/Application
1. In what areas of your life are you currently lacking wisdom? If you can’t think of anything, what decisions are you making that keep failing or bringing about negative results? Ask God to grant you the wisdom you need to live out a real, active faith in those areas.
2. Do you trust our giving God? The Bible makes it clear that God is waiting and ready to give you wisdom. He doesn’t make fun of you for needing it or laugh at the way you ask him for it. Pray a simple prayer today, “God I trust you today. I’m all yours. Give me the wisdom I need to live out a real, active faith.”
3. What doubts do you have about God? Are those small things you’re just confused about (Noah’s Ark, really?) or big things (Why do bad things seem to happen to good people?) keeping you away from a committed relationship with Jesus? Ask God to help you surrender to the reality that we don’t get all the answers we want. Thank him for the gift of faith.