James, Part 3
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
James says we become double-minded–pulled in two directions at the same time–when we are unclear about our identity in Christ. Ever felt that way? James says double-mindedness makes us “unstable” (some versions translate the word “confused”). I can relate to the feeling. Too often I’ve felt myself pulled in different directions when trying to make a decision, and confusion is always the result.
Unfortunately, my confusion does not limit itself to the decision I am trying to make. It causes instability in every part of my life:
- My emotions become volatile. I experience a mix of pride, anger, hurt, guilt, remorse, and a lot more. It becomes easy for me to withdraw into myself and stop trusting.
- My relationships suffer. My confused emotions leak their toxins into my interactions with family, friends, and workmates. I will say and do hurtful things.
- My spiritual life diminishes. It becomes easy for me to get distracted with trivial pursuits. I quit reading my Bible, and my prayer life dies.
Why is double-mindedness so dangerous? Because double-mindedness forces us to live a double life. We will become spiritual schizophrenics, acting one way in one environment, but a different way in another. We have a mask we wear for church, another we wear around friends, another we wear on the job, another we wear when out on the town… masks–R–us.
Verse 5 tells us how to avoid the misery that comes with living a double life. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
God says that the antidote for instability and confusion is wisdom. What is wisdom? Wisdom is related to knowledge, but it is different.
- Knowledge is about possessing facts. It’s about understanding who, what, where, when, and how. Most public school systems are focused on the pursuit of knowledge via rote learning. Children memorize facts about math, science, and the humanities, then demonstrate their knowledge on tests.
- Knowledge gained by rote learning can be invaluable, especially in the disciplines of math and science, but we cannot be satisfied with simply knowing the facts. We must also be able to discern the meaning of the facts and their relationship to other truths and how they fit into the bigger picture of the world we live in. This is where wisdom comes in–wisdom is the practical application of knowledge.
So how do we get wisdom? Is there an app for that?
Next: how to get wisdom