Questons about James 1:2-8

(Samuel Khaw) #1

This portion of the verse talks about a man when he asks wisdom from God, he must not doubt for he will not received any wisdom from God and is regarded as an unstable and double minded man.

I feel that this in conflict with my mind and my thinking. For me to doubt, has always been something that i developed so naturally as i grew up, Doubt has always been a way for me to help me exercise and develop my intellectual capability, and is just something that is in me naturally on a day to day basis.

So if i were to based on this bible verse, does it mean that a person who doubts like me will be unable to receive widsom from the Lord even if i pray and believe but at the same time if i have just a little doubt ? Will the smallest hint of doubt cross my mind, hinder me from receiving God’s wisdom if i pray and believe ?

Is it all zero sum for a person who is so inclined to doubt and question things (i.e intellectual people) ?

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(Lindsay Brandt) #2

Hello, Samuel. First, I want to say that this is a great question. I myself have wrestled and struggled with this passage. I did a bit of a study on it in preceptaustin: https://www.preceptaustin.org/james_15-6. Reading through this may give you a better grasp on what the Scripture means. The context of these verses is all about going through trials and having our faith and character grow and develop through trials. The way I have always understood it and how precept austin seems to explain it is that when we ask God for wisdom in regard to how to view trials and and how to make decisions in and through them, we must have faith in and total dependence on God, fully trusting in His character, that He will work everything out according to His good purposes (Romans 8:28) and in a way that is in line with who He is. Do you remember when Jesus prayed in the garden (Matt. 26:39), and he was entreating the Father in regard to His coming suffering and death: “…if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me;”? How often have we prayed that in the midst of our trials or when we knew something rough was coming up? But though it is okay to make our discomfort with the circumstances known, Jesus makes it clear that we are not to demand how God is to work out our situation by praying the following: “nevertheless, not as I will but as you will.” It is a complete surrender to God in our circumstances–a willingness to open our hearts and minds to the fact that His ways are higher than ours and may not look like what we want or are asking for in our situations.

However, you needn’t worry if you have doubt. We all struggle with doubt–we are human. Jesus has clearly shown us how God deals with our doubts when Thomas doubted. Jesus invited Him to see the holes in his hands (John 20:24-29). In the same way, God invites us to bring our doubts to Him, allowing ourselves to be completely vulnerable. It’s not always comfortable to do that, but it is always good and right. We do that by praying through it and digging into God’s Word, and asking the Lord to help us stand on the promises that we find there. If you struggle with this, read the Psalms. You will have good company there, as David and the other psalmists struggled with doubt at times. But if we read past the obvious doubt and questioning in the psalms, we find that the psalmist brings himself to a place where he fixes his eyes on God and praises and worships Him, surrendering himself to full trust in God, His Savior. Job is another good one to read for this. He struggles with and questions God, cursing the day he was born and accusing God of being unjust. But in the end, after God has spoken to him, Job repents and gives God praise.

No need to fear, for the one who started a good work in us will see it through to completion. Sometimes God allows us to go through trials precisely for the reason of revealing to us those things within ourselves that we are not completely surrendering in trust to Him. He will not leave us in our doubt, but in order to be able to move us forward, He needs us to be honest about our doubts. Consider the person James is talking about here. The person who has doubt has gone and asked God for wisdom. Notice he did not confess His doubt, ask for forgiveness and help and then ask for wisdom. There is a difference between the two. The first lacks a true intimacy with God that comes from truly trusting God with everything we experience and feel while the latter grasps that intimacy and is not afraid to come to God and be honest and open with how he/she is feeling. The first person, because he has not been honest with and asked God for help in dealing with the doubt, would probably not be able to properly receive or use any wisdom given by God anyways, because it would be filtered through the doubt. The second person is not in denial about his doubt and, being honest about the doubt with God, would be able to properly receive and apply that which God gives him. Does that make sense? It’s all about the relationship.

I hope this gives you some peace and encourages you to approach God in your doubts and be honest with Him about them so that He can help you through the struggle. That is what the Holy Spirit is there for, friend.

In Christ,

Lindsay

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(Sieglinde) #3

Hello @Samuel_95, thank you for this question. I agree with @psalm151ls and found her response very helpful. Here is a link to a sermon by Alistair Begg.
__https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/sermon/asking-god-for-wisdom/__
This will really clear this up for you.

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(Tim Behan) #4

@Samuel_95

Hi Samuel,

Awesome question. And a great response from Lindsay as well (@psalm151ls).

I did a Bible Study through James either last year or the year before (they all blur into one at some point). This is only one of several confronting and difficult things that James says. I think James is an eminently practical man and pastor… I also think that if we read his work and are not challenged in the way we think and act then we are not reading with a heart and mind opened to being changed by the work of the Holy Spirit.

So first let me say that I commend you for coming to the passage and looking to find it’s truth.

While I agree with what Lindsay says, I also think there is more to the idea of doubt (or double-mindedness) than what we see at first glance. Like many of the letters in the NT we get opening statements that are more fully developed later in the letter and I do think that this one of those.

James is obviously writing to churches going through division and persecution. His admonitions throughout the letter have both positive and negative aspects. I think, for this one, I would direct you through to James 4:7-8 where he also talks about being double-minded and also 3:13-18 about two kinds of wisdom.

His challenge in chapter 4 is to “Submit to God” (positive) and “Resist the Devil” (negative). We cannot have a foot in both camps by trying to serve two masters. We are to actively work towards both those things, submitting to one and resisting the other.

In his opening salvo and his entreaty to “believe” (positive) and “not doubt” (negative), I don’t believe he is talking about having intellectual doubts about God and his decrees, or even his ability to grant us wisdom (I think James would know the reality of the weakness of fallen humanity). But he exhorts us to believe and desire that God’s wisdom is indeed wisdom (fleshed out in James 3 with two kinds of wisdom) and that we would actually desire to receive it and be changed by it. On the flip side of this he wants us to recognise that the apparent wisdom of the world and the devil is not wisdom and not to desire or believe that it is.

Practically speaking… I think sometimes we pray for certain wisdom or change because we know that it is the right thing to do. But do we sometimes pray this with the hope that maybe God won’t make us change right away? Maybe he could let us keep going a little bit longer in our old habits (or a lot bit longer?). After all, we’re enjoying the way we are and don’t really want to change right now. I think this is the double-mindedness we are to avoid. Believe that God’s wisdom is, indeed, true wisdom… and don’t doubt that you want to change from the “wisdom” that is worldly and of the devil.

I think it is only natural that we question and doubt… I think James would be the first to agree because I think he was practical. But I think he also understood the human heart better than we give him credit for… and he exhorts us not to make a half-hearted attempt to be wise in the way of God, but to give ourselves over fully to it.

I feel like I’ve just written a sermon… I hope it wasn’t too preachy (although if I am preaching, it’s to myself) :slight_smile:. Does that help at all? I hope and pray that it does.

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(Samuel Khaw) #5

@tsbehan @sig @psalm151ls, thank you all for your answers, i truly appreciate it and it might take a while for me to digest these answers, but thank you all.

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