“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
James gave a couple of principles of doctrine in the previous verses. One principle is that you can endure any test in life while sharing the happiness of God if you have built an edification complex in your soul. Another principle is that the result of passing these tests accelerates spiritual growth so that a believer will not be lacking in area of his spiritual life.
James then recognized that some believers lacked the spiritual wisdom to handle the tests that will come their way. So, James gave them the mechanics of how to get spiritual wisdom. Mechanic one is to have positive volition toward God, as evidenced in the phrase, “let him ask of God.” A believer with negative volition would never ask God for anything. So we have a believer who recognizes their deficiency regarding the wisdom to handle testing and they go to the Source of problem-solving to find the answer. Remember that God has promised to provide doctrinal information for those who desire it. The way that we let God know we desire doctrine (spiritual wisdom) is by asking for it. This is interesting because asking is prayer and here prayer is simply the verbal expression of positive volition. Perhaps a believer would pray, “Dear Lord, I don’t have the wisdom to handle this particular problem. Can you please provide the necessary wisdom (doctrine) I need to pass this test?” And, low and behold at the next Bible class you attend or in your personal study the answer is revealed.
James then assured his readers that God is a generous God and gives us exactly what we need to pass the tests of life, and He does it without defaming our character for our lack of wisdom. God understands that learning wisdom from Bible doctrine is a process and a progression. And because a person is positive, God has obligated Himself to provide the wisdom that has been requested from doctrine (John 7:17)
“But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”
Mechanic two is to ask by means of faith. The Greek word for doubting is “diakrino,” which means to split out in your mind, and that means to have doubts; plus a strong negative without. The surf (wave) of the sea is an illustration of both instability and disorientation. With all of its power the wave is “driven and tossed.” Tossed is the Greek word “anemizo,” which means to be pushed around by the wind. All of the power of the sea cannot resist the power of the wind. Here is an illustration of instability — mental attitude sins, emotional revolt of the soul, false doctrine.
Faith is what is believed. The object of faith is to be Bible doctrine. Bible doctrine is invisible. Faith is confidence in the unseen. The object of faith always has the merit. There is no merit in the subject because faith is a non-meritorious system of perception. It is the object of faith that counts, not the worthiness of the one with faith. For salvation, the object of faith is Jesus Christ. For maturity adjustment to the justice of God, the object of faith is Bible doctrine. Faith is not something we do, but it is the channel by which we appropriate what God has done for us.
“For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Expect is the Greek word “oiomai,” which is pride thinking, inflated thinking. It means thinking divorced from the reality of a situation; human viewpoint thinking. It also means presumption. How do you get pride thinking as a believer? The answer is found in the Greek word “gnosis,” which is academic knowledge. The only doctrine that can be applied is spiritual knowledge which is the Greek word“epignosis,” and that is applied from the human spirit. You can know all the Bible doctrine in the world academically, but it does you absolutely no good until you mix it with your faith. Once it is mixed with your faith it becomes spiritual knowledge and can be applied to the circumstances of life.
When a believer has only academic knowledge of God’s Word and tries to properly apply it he always distorts the truth. Doctrine can be applied only when it is“epignosis.” Remember that the mind is a staging area and that doctrine must be transferred from the staging area to the human spirit. What you have in the mind cannot be applied; it has to be transferred by faith. (Ephesians 3:17; Hebrews 4:2) Only Bible doctrine in the human spirit is useable, and it is useable in two ways: for construction material for your spiritual building and for a frame of reference for application. (Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 2:7; Isaiah 37:31)
Some to whom James was writing were already divorced from reality; they were already thinking legalism; they were already thinking pride. James was telling Jews who had gone from Jerusalem throughout the rest of the world to stop presuming that they receive blessing from God if they are double-minded. People often assume that because they are performing human good works that they are going to get something from God. They are assuming something, and to assume is to presume and to presume is to divorce the thinking from reality. They are not going to get anything from God on the basis of their good works. God’s whole system of blessing is grace. God’s whole system of blessing is what God is doing for you, not what you are doing for God.
For double-minded we have a compound adjective in Greek, “dipsuchos,” meaningdouble-souled. Attempting to allow your sin nature to control your soul and at the same time letting God the Holy Spirit control your soul is impossible. Remember that spirituality is an absolute. At any given time you are either filled with the Holy Spirit and in fellowship with God or you’re out of fellowship with God in a state of carnality. Attempting to serve two masters means instability in your spiritual life. Matthew 6:24 says that no one can serve two masters because he will hate one and love the other. There is no “siting on the fence” in the Christian life – if you are not advancing you are retreating. Mechanic three is single-mindedness. It is thinking divine viewpoint, which is the mind of Christ.
The Christian Way of Life is a supernatural way of life, which cannot be lived apart from knowledge of Bible doctrine and the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. (Romans 7:6, 8:2; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:18) This way of life requires thinking. All changes in our lives must come from the inside. The true character of the believer is determined by what he thinks, not by what he does. God never forces the believer into any course of action. We determine what our own spiritual lives are going to look like based on what we allow ourselves to think. Divine Viewpoint Thinking equals a victorious Christian Way of Life.
In order to have Divine Viewpoint Thinking, you must know the doctrines taught in the Bible. The more Bible doctrine you know and apply, the more Divine Viewpoint Thinking you will be able to utilize. The less Bible doctrine you know, the more Human Viewpoint Thinking you are going to utilize. The more Human Viewpoint Thinking you use, the more insecure and unstable you are going to be.
Daily study of God’s Word keeps Divine Viewpoint Thinking fresh in the mind and helps counteract Human Viewpoint Thinking. (Psalms 119:129-135) Thinking your way through life with Divine Viewpoint Thinking will bring victory, peace, power and stability. (Isaiah 26:3-4, 33:6) It also eliminates mental attitude sinning, such as maligning, character assassination, gossiping, jealousy, self-pity, etc. Vacillating between Divine Viewpoint Thinking and Human Viewpoint Thinking makes a believer unstable. An unstable believer is an unhappy believer.
“But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away.”
The humble believer in this verse is pictured as a person who is not well-off in terms of human viewpoint perhaps because they do not have wealth or fame. But this believer does have a high position spiritually because he is a member of the royal family of God. Here is a believer in Jesus Christ who is poor as far as finances go but he possesses an edification complex and is moving constantly in the direction of spiritual maturity.
Glory in his position means to celebrate the fact that he is a child of God and is constructing his spiritual house. The best celebration in life is the use of the edification complex of the soul. If you start with grace and stay with it, you will end up with perfect happiness. Life becomes a great celebration whether the circumstances are prosperity or adversity. In other words, there are going to be varying circumstances of life but the celebration goes right on. The poor believer with an edification complex celebrates just as much as the rich believer with an edification complex. The rich man is to glory in the fact that as a believer he too has the opportunity to construct the edification complex. There is no social distinction in the body of Christ. His wealth will pass away, but what he builds spiritually will last.
James made a very strong contrast of what a rich believer and a poor believer have in common as a potential. The answer is the edification complex of the soul. With the edification complex completed, the rich believer is no happier than the poor believer, and the poor believer is no happier than the rich believer. They have exactly the same opportunities under grace and their financial status makes absolutely no difference.
A wealthy believer cannot enjoy his wealth unless he has capacity for life, and his capacity for life comes from Bible doctrine. Grace orientation gives him the capacity to enjoy what he has and to help him to pass the prosperity test. There are some people who cannot pass the poverty test, the adversity test, or the prosperity test. But the edification complex makes it possible for you to pass any test.
It is very important to understand that the basis for your happiness is Bible doctrine. The basis for happiness goes with you to Heaven. If you have an edification complex, it also goes with you. If you have a lot of Bible doctrine in your soul, it goes with you. So your capacity for life goes to Heaven with you. Your capacity for loving God also goes with you.
“For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.”
This analogy is a reference to a wealthy believer who becomes distracted by his wealth and pursues things other than God and His Word. Instead, he concentrates on the details of life, i.e. wealth, fame, power, etc. In other words, if he becomes a slave to the details of life, it is not the details that fall off, it is the beauty of a believer who had an edification complex and let it fade away. The beauty begins to fade because slavery to the details of life is accompanied by negative volition toward Bible doctrine and leads to all type of mental attitude sinning. Rich or poor, a believer must pursue Bible doctrine by learning, believing, and applying it on a consistent basis to experience the happiness of God.