I’ve been doing a short study on the book of James. If you’ve not spent time in that book, it’s not only a wonderful book, it’s practical and challenging. Perhaps one of the most oft quoted passages in the book of James comes in the first chapter and deals with doubt or double-mindedness..dipsychos.
One of the sources for my study made a comment about James 1:5-8 and the idea of double-mindedness that made me stop and think a good bit. I’ll share that comment in a bit, but first let’s take a quick looks at the word double-minded.
The idea of double-minded, dipsychos, is a word that’s only used in James and then only twice. There are no real corollaries in the Greek translation of the OT except perhaps Psalm 12:2 where the Psalmist talks of a double-heart. James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem, uses the word in contrast to faith. In other words, one who expresses faith cannot be double-minded.
Faith here is not belief in God but the idea of actually trusting God to do what he says. To do what’s right for those who do believe in him. It comes in the context of asking for wisdom. “If any of you is lacking wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. BUT ask in faith, never doubting, for…the doubter (literally ‘the man’v.7) being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord (vv. 5-8 NRSV).”
In this context E. Tod Twist makes this observation about the people James is addressing; “They struggle with a conflict of loyalties: God and his direction versus self and personal desires.” Now that my friend, should start the wheels turning.
What exactly is God’s direction? How, and more so, why do I (self), or my personal desires, send up a flag of conflict? Doesn’t God want to grant me the desires of my heart? If I move to do the right thing for the right reasons how could that be a conflict of loyalties? Are the questions I have about God, the Bible, and perhaps the Christian life, as some people describe it, evidence of a conflict of loyalties? Of double-mindedness?
As if that’s not enough, what prompted this idea of “wisdom”? Why would I want to ask for wisdom? It seems, based on the context, wisdom has to do with the testing of my faith, endurance, and the idea of “lacking in nothing” (vv. 2-4).
As in nearly every instance the key to putting some of these pieces together is context. In this rather short epistle, the context is not so much other teachings; we haven’t gotten that far in to the letter. Rather, it deals with who the recipients of the letter were. Once we get a handle on that then we can begin to see how and why James starts off with such a deep and challenging thought.
And we’ll do just that in the next post.
HAPPY EASTER! HE IS RISEN!!!!!