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"Asking for Wisdom Without Doubting"
James 1:6-8

Wednesday AM Bible Study
April 9, 2003

Often, when it comes to making the choice of whether or not to follow God's wise plan for solving their problem, many people throw up their hands in frustration and exclaim, "I've tried doing what the Bible says, but it just doesn't work. I've tried praying. I've tried trusting God. I've 'turning it over to Jesus'. I've tried 'loving my enemies'. I've tried asking God to give me the strength to do the right thing. I've tried; and it just doesn't work!"

It simply isn't true that God's ways don't work. God's ways always work. So what's the problem? To put it bluntly, it's that we too often believe, at the most fundamental level, that God's way isn't truly the best. We too often believe that God's wisdom is just as valid as the world's way of solving our problems -- or maybe even "second best" to the world's way. "Maybe God's way of solving this problem is the way to go," we reason deep in our hearts; "but then, maybe it isn't. If God would just show me what He wants me to do in this difficult situation I'm in, I can take a look at it and consider it. Maybe I'll decide to do what He says. But God's way isn't the 'only' way. In fact, sometimes His way is a rather difficult one. I'm not ready to commit to it yet. I'm just not sure what I'm going to do; and I want to keep my options open."

If we were to ask God for wisdom in such a frame of mind, we would be doing so in an insincere manner, because we wouldn't really be intending to follow it. We would just sort of playing with the information.

Much of our battle in the Christian life is won or lost right here. God's wisdom for living -- even in the midst of our trials -- is very much available to us, if we'll only ask Him for it. And His way will always prove, in the end, to have been the best way for us. But we must do as James says. We must "ask in faith without any doubting". If we want God's wisdom for living, then we'd better ask with a sincere trust that God's way is best. James tells us here ...


"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting ..." (v. 6a).

A. What does James mean by "faith"?

1. He could mean asking "in the faith"; that is, as a Christian. But this seems assumed already. He does, after all, call them "brothers" (v. 2).

2. He could also mean asking "in an attitude of expectancy"; that is, trusting God to truly answer (Heb. 11:6). But again, verse 5 seems to suggest that they already have this expectancy.

3. He could also mean, "If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God for it; but in asking, let such a person be sure that they ask with a firm confidence in the reliability of God's wisdom - that God's ways truly are best". This, in the context of these words, seems the most likely way to understand "faith".

B. We can understand what James means by faith by his other qualifying phrase, "without any doubting". The word James uses doesn't just mean "weakness in faith". Rather, it means "to separate" or "sever"; and in this particular sense, it's the idea of "making distinctions and differences between things". James uses the same word in 2:4. The King James translates it well: "wavering". When we ask God for wisdom, we're not to have any reservations that God's way is truly the best.


"... for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind" (v. 6b).

A. Such a person is as unpredictable as the surf of the sea (Eph. 4:14); which is really a sign of spiritual immaturity.

B. Such a person is also "double minded" - or, as the word James uses really means - "two souled". This state of being is a sin to be repented of (James 4:4).

C. Such a person is "unstable in all his ways" (v. 8). This is a condition that Jesus describes as "foolish" (Matthew 7:24-27).


"For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (vvds. 7-8).

When we ask God for wisdom, but at the same time doubt that His wisdom is best, we are saying in effect that we don't trust Him. We have no right to expect Him to respond to such a qualified request (Mark 6:5-6; Matthew 17:20).

* * * * * * * * * *

Check yourself out on these things:

  • Have you been experiencing a fundamental instability in your life; feeling like you just don't have it together?
  • Have you been finding yourself to be of two minds; willing, on the one hand, to know what God wants you to do in a particular situation; but unwilling, on the other, to follow through with obedience to it?
  • Have you been finding that you start out strong in doing what God wants you to do; but ending up off track -- as if the least little inconvenience or difficulty is enough to make you throw in the towel?
  • Have you found that you ask for God's wisdom for your life, but you don't seem to get an answer? Or that, when you do get the answer, you get discouraged by it and say, in frustration, that it probably won't work?

If this is where you are, then it's up to you to do something about it. According to James 4:7-8, what must we do in such a case?

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