World English Bible translation
1:5But 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. 1:6 But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. 1:7 For let that man not think that he will receive anything from the Lord. 1:8 He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Through various temptations, the testing of our faith brings about patience. When patience and perseverance finish their work in our lives, we will be complete in Christ, mature and able to endure all things. All of these blessings are a response of God to our faith. God pours out his blessings on us in order to bring glory and honor to His Son who redeemed us.
James tells us that one of the blessings that God will give us is the blessing of wisdom. If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God. God will give him wisdom and will give it abundantly, without reproach. The wisdom that God will give is the way of godly living. Wisdom is not knowledge. If it were possible to know all things, it would be possible to have all knowledge and yet lack wisdom. To be wise is to understand the right thing to do.
God wants us to be wise. He wants to impart wisdom to His children and He wants them to live righteously. That's why James tells his readers that if anyone lacks wisdom they should ask of God. And that's also why we should desire wisdom. True wisdom comes from seeking to understand the desires of our Creator and then pursuing those same desires. We were created by God to achieve certain things, to feel certain things and to understand certain things. The wise man or women is the one that works toward the ends for which we were created.
But James also has a thing or two to say about doubting. If we ask God for wisdom, let us ask without doubting. The man who doubts is like a wave on the ocean. The winds and the swell of the tides toss the wave about, as they will. The wave is powerless to direct its own course. The man who doubts is double-minded and unstable.
James is not really speaking here about the little doubts that we have in life: Will this thing work out or am I doing this thing properly? What James is writing about are the fundamental doubts that we have about whether God exists or not. Whether God cares. The little doubts come upon us because we feel insecure about our understanding of the larger doubts that James writes about. If we believe that God exists and that He will provide then most of all the small doubts will resolve themselves.
That is not to say that we are ever completely free of doubt. Doubts will be tossed upon our minds like the seed in the parable of the sower. But, it is within us to control whether the seeds of doubt will find fertile soil. If our conviction and faith are strong, then such doubt does not find purchase: it cannot find root. James does not condemn the man that merely experiences doubts. Rather it is the man that embraces his doubts and whose life becomes progressively more consumed by them each day. Doubt grows like weeds in the garden of our mind. Just as a garden needs constant weeding and pruning, so it is with our mind - with our thoughts.
The man who doubts is unstable in all his ways. Faith is the opposite of doubt and it is only through faith that we can achieve stability. God is the only constant. Everything else in life is in motion - is in flux. In anchoring our faith in the one stable quality in the universe, we can achieve our own sense of stability. Anything else is a phantom and a ruse.
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