How to ask the giving God (James 1:6-8)
Last month we considered James 1:5 and that James commands believers to ask God for wisdom if it is lacking. This month, I would like to pick up where we left off last month (see Ask the giving God) and consider what James teaches in James 1:6-8. After telling believers to ask God for wisdom and assuring them that God will supply it, we find the following words,
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
(Jas. 1:6-8 ESV)
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting.
James here, instructs us how to ask for wisdom. It must be done in faith and with no doubting. It must be done wholeheartedly expecting to receive from God the wisdom requested. We see James here is picking up on some of Jesus’ teaching (Mt. 21:21-22; same account in Mk.11:22-24). The pray of faith will be answered. James views doubt as the opposite of faith much like Paul does in Romans.
18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” (Rom. 4:18-22 ESV)
The one who would have wisdom must ask God, but he must ask God “fully convinced” that God will give the wisdom that has been requested.
Why must one ask in this manner?
For the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
James paints a vivid picture of the one who asks God for wisdom while doubting God will give it. The one who asks while doubting is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. Many of you have probably seen this first-hand while visiting the beach or even on a lake. He is not talking about the waves that build and crash onto the shore but the water when it is tossed back and forth sending waves crashing into each other. This person is unsettled. He has no inner or outer restfulness. He is troubled.
James goes on to say,
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.
The doubter, James says, should not expect that he will receive anything from the Lord. He is asking not in faith but in doubt. Prayers of doubt will receive nothing from the Lord. Listen to how James describes the doubting person.
He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
The doubter is double minded. He is split in his thinking. “The doubter asks God for aid, but before he finishes his prayer, he thinks, ‘This will never work.’ He vacillates, tossing from one idea to the next, with no more stability of direction or purpose than a wind-whipped wave” (Doriani, p.26). The doubter has no clear direction. He has not clear purpose. James says he is unstable in all his ways. He is headed in one direction one minute and in another direction the next minute.
Friends, heed the warning given by James. Do not ask God for wisdom and doubt that he will supply it. As you pray for wisdom in the midst of your trial trust that God will grant it. It may mean waiting on your part. It may mean praying like you have never prayed before. It may mean more time in the Word. It may mean hours spent with trusted biblical advisers but trust that God will supply the wisdom needed. Do not be the doubter who is like a wind-tossed wave, double-minded and unstable in all his ways. Do not ask for wisdom and then act in your own wisdom. Ask and trust the giving God to supply it.
By His Grace Alone,