Monday, November 24, 2014

The double minded man - James 1:5-8

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:5-8)
To reproach, at least here in the Greek, means to upbraid or to "dress down." It is to rebuke or to chide one for their wrong doings or their lack in some area of their life. There were those whom Jesus did upbraid. "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not." (Matt 11:20 KJV) And He even upbraided his disciples for their unbelief and lack of faith. "Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen." (Mark 16:14) However, here, James makes us a promise that, if we engage in this one specific act, God will in no way upbraid or rebuke us for our actions. That action is asking!

When King David had sinned with Bathsheba, God rebuked David through His prophet saying, "It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!" (2 Samuel 12:7-8) We all have lack in our lives and, sometimes, we are ashamed of our lack and afraid to approach God thinking He will judge us for our lack, but God already knows what we need and He is ever standing ready to fill up what we lack. David's sin came because he tried to secure what he wanted in his own strength rather than coming to God and asking of Him what he wanted and needed. If David had too little, God was ready to give him more, if he would have but just asked.

Why is it that, when we are in need, the last place we turn for help is the one person who can actually help us in our need? If we would but turn to God we would realize that He is not waiting there to criticize us but rather to congratulate us for our faith and trust in Him? Throughout the life of Jesus we read stories where Jesus congratulates those who came to Him in need and in faith. "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." (Matthew 9:22) Let us put aside our fear and come to Jesus for what we lack. "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

When James speaks of doubting and the double minded man it always bothered me, because sometimes my faith is not as strong as it should be. However, here James is speaking of the doubt of a double minded man. This doubt comes not from weakness of faith but from weakness of heart. Later, James will command the double minded, "purify your hearts, you double-minded." (James 4:8) The problem is not weak faith but impure hearts. James is speaking of those who have duplicity in their hearts, who vacillate between faith and unbelief, between dependence on God and dependence on self. They are like the Israelites whom Elijah rebuked saying, "'How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.' But the people did not answer him a word." (1 Kings 18:21) They are like the Samaritans who, "feared the Lord and served their own gods according to the custom of the nations from among whom they had been carried away into exile." (2 Kings 17:33)

The double minded man, the one who has two spirits within him, lives an unstable life; now trusting in the Lord, now trusting in himself. Such a person is at the mercy of circumstances and the forces that rage around him and that make war within him. His double mindedness undermines all he attempts and brings forth only failure in his life. Such a man is not the kind of man God is looking for. God is looking for those who are either "in or out," those who are either "with Him or without Him." The double minded man finds no pleasure with God. "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." (Revelations 3:15-16) It is time to stop vacillating between opinions; either God is God or He is not; either we are with Him or we are not! Now is the time for decision, now is the time for choosing. Let us abandon everything else and give our lives whole heartedly to the Lord and to His mercy and grace.

David Robison

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