James 1.5-7 and Hebrews 11.6 – Doubt and the gifts of God
Posted: 9 December 2011 in Hebrews, James

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

I used to read those verses from James as meaning that nobody who has any doubts will receive anything from God, but I am not sure that is what it does mean. I doubt if there is anybody today who is completely without doubts, because we are surrounded by a secular culture (especially in Europe) which we can hardly fail to be influenced by. We do, nevertheless, have a duty to be faithful to our calling, and I think that is what James is getting at. We cannot expect to receive anything from God unless we first have the intention of using what we are given wholly in his service. He will not bestow his gifts only to see them wasted, and himself dishonoured. In fact, if we were given the means to dishonour him in that way, and we actually did so, we would only bring judgment upon ourselves. Even if they don’t always see it that way, God is merciful to his children.

Similarly with the verse from Hebrews. Few, if any of us, can come to God without doubts, but we can implead him for his mercy – if only we are conscious of our poverty. As Paul has it, God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Only when we are aware of our weakness will we have the motive (in fact necessity) of relying upon him. Not that we won’t repeatedly fall into self reliance even then.

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