If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you … But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty … should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James 1:5-8, NLT* (emphasis mine)
Reading these verses in other translations, I always thought “do not waver” meant “don’t doubt” and it always left me a bit uncertain. Despite our best efforts, doubt can flicker in our prayers.
God knows that. Remember the father with the demon-possessed son? “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NLT*)
The KJV uses “wavering” but the NIV actually says “you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave…” Both call the person “double minded.”
But this translation makes the real issue clear. Are we asking God for wisdom, leading, direction, but still holding onto worldly wisdom as a backup? No wonder it doesn’t work. If our loyalty is divided between God and the world, we’re sunk. (Click to tweet.)
That’s not to say God doesn’t want us to use our common sense, any more than He doesn’t want us to avail ourselves of doctors or other resources. But He does want us to look first to Him, to His power and His ways, and to go “all in” with what He says even if it’s counter-intuitive from a natural human perspective.
Remember His instruction for the Israelites to march around the walls of Jericho? God’s way works, because He works.
The context in today’s verses is wisdom, but I think the loyalty—which worldview we espouse and obey, where we look for our strength and encouragement—underpins everything we do.
In this light, I can understand “double-minded” to be like the man serving two masters. Of course it won’t succeed. We need to trust. And to commit.
Holy and all-powerful God, help us to fully embrace You as our source of all help and resources. Grow our faith so we can trust and obey You—fully and completely.
This week’s song is a hymn I love: “Be Thou My Vision.”
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.