Last night we looked at James 1:6-8, following on from our study on wisdom:“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

Doubt is not the same thing as unbelief. We will often have doubts in life: doubts about whether we’ve heard God correctly, doubts about our own abilities, doubts about God’s abilities! Jesus was gracious to Thomas when he doubted (John 20:24-29) and Gideon’s doubts were again graciously dealt with (Judges 6:36-40). We needn’t be afraid to bring our honest questions and doubts to God. We have to be careful, however, because doubt can easily act as the gateway to unbelief, and this prevents us from receiving from God. Instead, we need to bring our doubts to God, accept His evaluation of the situation (basically, acknowledging that what He says about things is true, whereas what we think about them very often is not!) and accept that we do not always have to pass through the state of undertanding in order to obey.

The imagery James uses to talk about the one who doubts is that of being tossed about on waves in a storm, reminiscent of the disciples in the boat with Jesus.

Jesus slept peacefully because He trusted in God. When we doubt, we often hesitate and waver, paralysed by indecision and fear.We are like children, “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (Eph 4:14). The key to knowing stability in our lives and to receiving the wisdom we are asking for is to live an integrated, congruent life, not a dissonant one. Dissonance occurs when two or more disharmonious elements clash. Faith and doubt are two dissonant elements. They don’t belong together.

James talks about a ‘double-minded’ person who is ‘unstable’ (that word means ‘near anarchy’, without recognition of authority in one’s life.) Jesus warned against the impossibility of trying to serve two masters in Matthew 6:23-24. The key to successful living is to live with singleness of purpose, loving God with all that we are (Deut 6:5) and serving Him wholeheartedly (see Numbers 32:12, 2 Chronicles 19:9, Eph 6:6-8). When we live with our minds (our frames, our ‘skeletons’) fixed on God, being steadfast, then we will find God’s perfect peace sustaining us (Is 26:3) and then we will live in faith and not in doubt.