Online Bible Commentary
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (NKJV)
James, the half brother of Jesus, writes on the subject of wisdom. It is a subject that comes up frequently in this book. Obviously, it was an important subject to him, one that every Christian needs to know.
When James writes of wisdom he is not writing of the “wisdom” of the world. He is not referring to the “wisdom” of knowing human nature, science, technology, investing, or any other “wisdom” in which men may choose to become educated. He is referring to the wisdom of God. All true wisdom comes from God. So, James is referring to spiritual wisdom, how the teachings of the Bible should influence the way we live our lives.
James opened this book by writing of how perseverance in our faith will lead to us becoming mature Christians. He wrote “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” in verse four, the verse that preceded this passage.
Verse four and verse five are linked in the original Greek text. The literal Greek translation for verse five begins with the word “But”. It reads “But if any of you lacks wisdom” (V. 5a). This is a reference to “lacking nothing” in verse four. So, James identifies wisdom as the first and foremost gift that Christians should not lack.
The word translated “if” in verse five is the Greek word “ei”. “Ei”, as used in this clause, presupposes a standing fact. The meaning is that it is a standing fact that we all lack spiritual wisdom. We will not be complete in our spiritual wisdom until we reach Heaven. But we can all gain in spiritual wisdom if we “ask of God” (v.5b). So we should ask God, “who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (v. 5c).
So, spiritual wisdom is available to all Christians by asking God. However, it is not as simple as just asking God. God has a different definition for the word “ask” than we do. When we “ask God” for something in prayer, He needs for us to really ask. We should “ask in faith, with no doubting, When you ask, you must believe and not doubt” (v. 6a). God’s definition of “ask” adds that our asking must come with belief that he will answer our request. We must pray in faith, believing in advance that our request will be answered. We must not have any doubt whatsoever that God will answer our request.
According to God, “he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (v. 6b). He should not expect to “receive anything from the Lord” (v. 7), because he is “double-minded” (v. 8a). The Greek word translated “double-minded” is the compound word “di-psychos” (hyphen added for emphasis). He has part of his mind on things of the world and part of his mind on the things of God.
This person is straddling the fence. He is not fully devoted to the Lord. This makes him “unstable” (v. 8b) in the eyes of God. Another word for the Greek word translated “unstable” is “undependable”. In God’s eyes since this person is not fully on His team he cannot be depended upon to use God’s gift for God’s purposes. Therefore, the “double minded” person does not have his prayer granted. He loses out on the blessing.
Since James is writing this to Hebrew Christians, this teaching only applies to Christians. It is very hard for the prayers of non Christians to be heard by God. They must be reaching out to Him for forgiveness, while repenting of their sin, and asking Jesus to come into their heart and be their Lord and Savior.
In summary, spiritual wisdom is available to all Christians. We must ask in faith, without any doubt, believing that God will grant our request. This is not a one-time prayer. We are not given spiritual wisdom overnight. It is something conferred upon us over time as we walk with God. Pray for it daily.