Monday Morning Devotion (Double Minded?)

(5) If any one of you lacks wisdom, let him ask from God who gives liberally to everyone, and it will be given to him. (6) But let him ask in faith, not doubting {or ask faithfully, not wavering}, for the one who doubts {or wavers} is like the waves of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. (7) A person like that shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. (8) Such a person is of two minds, unstable in everything he does. — James 1:5-8

Suppose someone goes to the doctor and receives his diagnosis along with a prescription. “Take one pill, four times per day for the next week and you will get better,” says the doctor. If the patient then goes home and never takes the medication, or takes it contrary to the instructions, and does not get well, who is responsible? Has the doctor failed to fulfill his promise of healing? No! The patient has failed to carry out the necessary actions.

I sometimes call this a sure promise, but it is also an example of a promise that comes with a condition. I’m reminded of Solomon, who was given great wisdom and yet had his heart turned to other gods, and left a kingdom ready for rebellion and division behind. A proverb says, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” You might apply that here as “You can give someone wisdom, but you can’t make him think!”

James was quite clear about the results. If you doubt, or waver, you’re not going to be wise. Even the wisest course of action won’t work if you don’t carry it out. We often read this as asking with enough belief, enough “believing that God will give the faith to us.” But the word used here encompasses faith and faithfulness, and I believe we’re talking not merely about believing that God can give us wisdom, but sticking with God and using the wisdom that he gives.

Instability is a real problem for Christians. We decide to go to one church, but then we get tired of it and change our minds a few months later. We go to one job, but decide that the influences are not so good, so we switch to another one. We accept a position on one church committee, but a couple of months later we decide our gifts are not so well suited to that one.

Now I’m not telling you that Christians are worse than the world in general on this point. What I’m saying is that very often we’re no better—and we SHOULD be! We have God’s promise of wisdom. We have the accompanying admonition to be stable.

There are also those whose stability becomes insane. One definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results. There are times when wisdom lies in changing your actions. The question is following the divine wisdom all the time.

I have found in my own life that my problem is not so much choosing to do bad things, as not choosing to do the BEST thing. I say “yes” to many, many requests, and then I add a stack of things that I personally would like to do on top of that, and as a result I end up getting nothing completely done. I think that James is talking here about people like me who need to reform in the focus and stability department. It’s something God is working on in my life.

Are you double-minded? Do you get God’s wisdom and then go with it, or do you settle for something “good” but not the BEST thing God has for you?

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