5 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.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
We all know Jesus’ comment about how “No one can serve two masters… You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13) And every preacher worth his or her salt reminds us to put off worldly things. After all, that is the whole idea behind repentance. But in our passage above, James isn’t just talking about a “double-minded man” having two hearts – one dedicated to God, one enslaved to the flesh. James is talking about faith without doubts, about being of two minds about God.
In one part of our mind, we wholly believe in the Creator of the universe, the Redeemer of Israel, the Son of God. We read our Bibles and are as certain that God has done these things as we are that George Washington was the first US president or that we bought milk at the market recently. That mind looks upon God as historical fact, and we worship that God in His Spirit, certain of the truths contained in His Word.
But when we come to ourselves and our prayers, we waver. We live lives that are bounded by what we see as physical reality. We so rarely see the Spirit moving in our lives that we have no clear idea of just what the Spirit can do. Sure, we read about the Lord parting the Red Sea 3,200 years ago, but not having seen a similar thing today, we still doubt whether such a thing might happen in our lives.
Of course, we are not helped by scientists who rail against faith, by teachers who tell us to “stay grounded in reality,” and even by pastors telling us the time of miracles is long gone. And when our own empirical evidence seems to confirm such doubts, we buy into the lie that God either doesn’t exist or He is, at best, limited by the very laws of physics He created.
Oh give me a break! What happened to our sense of wonder and imagination?!? Why is it we enjoy films and books about magic and miracles? Because we WANT to believe in such things! Then why DON’T we? We seem to have two versions of God in our heads: one is the Almighty Creator and Savior, and the other is some nebulous wish-granting, capricious Spirit who may or may not do what we pray for. Here is an unfortunate truth: We limit God’s work in our lives when we limit our vision of what He can do.
What IS the “reality”? I’ll let the apostle Paul tell you:
Eph 4:4-6 (emphasis added)
4 There is ONE body and ONE Spirit, just as you were called in ONE hope of your calling;
5 ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism;
6 ONE God and Father of all, who is ABOVE ALL, and THROUGH ALL, and IN YOU ALL.
God the Almighty IS the same Spirit who heals the wounded and frees our souls. God the Provider not only provides manna for the Israelites, He also provides you and me with wisdom and love and joy and even with the material things we need. God the Son didn’t stop His work after He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father. Through the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, Jesus continues to do “greater works than these.” (John 14:12)
So let’s be of ONE mind about God, believing with all of our being that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Have that undoubting faith, that faith that never wavers. Don’t have a faith that says “I hope You can do this,” rather have a faith that says “I KNOW You WILL do this.” The faith that God wants us to have in His Son is faith that is utterly SINGLE-MINDED, focused on the One True God and Father of us all. As the writer of Hebrews put it, we must “believe that He is, AND that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis added)
Our Father in Heaven, our Rock and our Redeemer, hear my prayer. I seek You today, Lord God, to enlighten me and guide me. Lift me up, Precious Lord, and strengthen me so that I may serve You better. I seek no reward other than to see Your face. Bind my wounds, heal my infirmities, and give me bold courage to exclaim “Jesus Christ is Lord!” Amen.