Recently I was wandering in a bookstore and noticed a book titled, “Ten Things I Wish The Bible Didn't Say.” I picked it up to see what it was about, and discovered that the author had listed out ten different things the Bible tells us about how to live the Christian life which are very challenging, and therefore, are things that the author wished it didn’t say. I sort of felt that same way this morning, after reading James 1:5-8, which says: “If you need wisdom, if you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him and He will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect Him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that’s driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. They can't make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do.”
At first glance, this passage seems to outline a fairly simple equation for the Christian life - if we're lacking wisdom, we ask God, and He gives it to us. But the thing that struck me this morning as I read this familiar passage is how we're supposed to go about asking Him. James tells us to ask in faith, with no doubt. So when it comes to asking God for wisdom, we're to ask confidently that we’ll receive it. Verse 8 leaves no room for doubt, as it tells us, “A doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. They can't make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do.”
Some versions translate “waver back and forth” as being “double-minded”. I like that because I think it gets to the heart of what James is telling us when he talks about people being of “two minds” as they approach life. James is describing people who think of life in two different ways – sometimes looking at life with the mind of God, seeing thing with His perspective – and then sometimes looking at life with the mind of the world, making decisions based on human wisdom and understanding. And what James is telling us is that we need to be single-minded in our approach to this life - asking God for His mind on how to live, and then moving forward with the wisdom He gives us.
And this is where the “I wish I hadn't read this” part of the story comes in, because I can see my own life reflected in what James is challenging us to do. One day, I'm all about living with God's perspective, and then the next day, I try and handle life with wisdom from the world. And what James makes very clear is that when we try to get through life that way - with a “double-mind” - then we end up unstable in everything we do. So it’s not just that living with a “double-mind” isn't wise, it also leads to a life built on shaky ground because we're trying to live in two worlds. And when we do that, we end up being unable to live fully for God.
So today, let's listen to the wise words of James, and commit to living with one mind - fully focused on God. Let's ask Him for His wisdom on life, and then rely on Him to help us live out that wisdom in every aspect of our lives – on the days where it’s easy to see His perspective, and days where we’re tempted to figure things out on our own.