“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 1: 6-8
Here’s the question, do I/we really want wisdom? I know we say we do, but do we really want true, Godly, wisdom? We already know that God wants to generously give us wisdom, so it isn’t a matter of praying to get Him to give us wisdom. What James wants us to be sure of is whether or not we want God’s wisdom.
James says when you ask for wisdom you better be ready for God to give you that wisdom because He will. So then, how could receiving the wisdom from God be a problem? Because the wisdom from God brings us to an understanding of who He is and to the truth of His holy word. The wisdom of God runs in direct opposition to worldly human wisdom. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1: 25 that what the world calls foolish, Godly wisdom, is wiser than the man’s wisdom. So James says when you ask for wisdom we need to ask knowing that what God gives us will be very different from what we know right now and may challenge us to think and act in a radically different way. If we are not ready to give up worldly wisdom for the wisdom of God then we should not even ask God for wisdom. Remember, Godly wisdom will always lead us to God and away from the pursuit of this world.
James then makes the point that if we ask God but don’t really want to follow what He gives then we are like a wave of the sea. We will be blown back and forth, from one kind of wisdom to the other and are never grounded in anything. We used to call this being “wishy washy” and it is not an admirable trait.
The problem in this passage is not with God, it is with us. God said he would give, but we may not be ready or willing to receive. If we are not ready to receive when we ask James says don’t think you will receive anything. In order for God’s wisdom to be useful it must be received and lived. If we are not prepared to do that then we shouldn’t expect that we will really receive God’s wisdom. In other words it is a problem with the receiver and not the sender. All we will accomplish is creating a double mindedness within us and we will constantly be trying to balance the line between two very differing wisdoms. One wisdom, God’s, that leads to life and the other, man’s, that leads to death.
So before we ask God to give us wisdom we need to ask ourselves if we really want God’s wisdom and all that wisdom will bring to our lives. If not then don’t ask.