…for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. -James 1:8
“Thank you for waiting”, James smiles thinly.
“I have a little survey for you to fill out. Please use a #2 pencil.
“Question #1. Do you have any doubts, as far as your faith is concerned? Ever wonder about the miracles Jesus performed, or if there’s a Heaven, or if God hears you when your pray? Hmm. Okay, that’s interesting…
“Question #2. Are you single-minded in purpose? Do you always know exactly what you want, where you’re going, and what you believe? In other words, are you 100% focused? Aha. Let me just write down a few notes here…
“Question #3. Are you dependable, rock-solid in your faith, and totally devoid of neuroses? Okay. As I suspected.
“I’m terribly sorry, but you do not appear to qualify for any assistance from God. You’re just too much of a doubter, too double-minded, and thoroughly unstable. Maybe you can try back in six months.”
Yep. That’s how I picture an encounter with James happening. I mean, wow, those are some pretty tough criteria in the scripture above. Could you meet those criteria? Could anyone? I picture James sitting behind a window with a big ole’ rubber stamp that says ‘denied’. He has a little fake sad smile for you as he looks at the person behind you in line. “Next!”
Wow. Is James really that tough on who gets some assistance from God? Well, it says it right there in the Bible, folks who don’t meet the requirements “must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
Oh wait…I just realized something. James is talking about what you and I will receive from God. Not what God is transmitting to us. See the difference? James is saying there’s nothing wrong with God — God wants to give us Love, Hope, Faith, Patience, etc. The problem is on our end, with our receivers.
It turns out this isn’t some restrictive list James made up to keep people from getting God’s Good Stuff. It’s a list of the conditions we humans find ourselves in that make it hard for us to receive it.
Sometimes, try as we might, we let our doubt get the best of us. Instead of letting faith light our way, we gum up the works with too many questions, too much uncertainty. When we give in to doubt, we’re blocking God.
And other times, we get distracted. We become double, or triple, or quadruple-minded. We’re thinking about the bills, troubles at work, and the argument we had with a friend. When we become unfocused like that, we’re blocking God.
And at other times, well, we’re an unstable mess. We can’t think clearly. Can’t make good decisions. We feel like we’ve let the walls of our lives come crumbling in around us. When we’re unstable, we’re blocking God.
James is merely saying, “Push through that!”
Easier said than done, right? Actually, James knows that. He’s here to help. Here’s what he has to say in verses 2-4
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
James isn’t some disinterested nay-sayer. Quite the contrary. He’s reminding us that tough times met head-on with faith produces endurance and wisdom. You may go through hard times when your life threatens to block God from reaching you, but hold on to your faith. Consider it joy that your faith will sustain you and help you grow!
That is Good News, indeed. Something I know I’ll try to remember.
Thanks, James. If you were here I know you’d say,
“You’re entirely welcome.” And then you’d say…
Have a Great Week,