The double minded man

James 1:5-8 says:

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

When we see the word unstable, it may sound like we have some kind of mental condition. The Greek word for unstable here is “akatastatos”.  The root word for stability means: “properly, set down (in place), i.e. “put in charge,” give standing (authority, status) which enables someone to rule (exercise decisive force).” Double-mindedness then is not standing in our authority or proper place. We are children of the living God. We are acting under the authority and headship of Christ. When we doubt, we are doubting who we are, and what God has promised. We are losing our right standing. We are living by the old man, the flesh.

When we ask of God, He gives generously without finding fault. He gives because we are His children. We stand in faith because of who we are in Him. Do not allow the doubt of who you are to compromise the goodness that God wants to bring to you.

The Importance of Punctuation

The New Testament in the original Greek had no punctuation. When translated into English, sentence structure was inferred, so sometimes our version might turn out a little odd. Consider John 9:1-5:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Now with that sentence structure, we come up with the conclusion that God made this man blind from birth, just so Jesus could heal him many years later. Some people believe this, but is goes against the nature of Jesus (and God the Father). The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus came to bring life abundantly. So lets change the comma in verse 3 to a period, and note that in the Greek, “this happened” is not there. We then get:

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned” said Jesus. “So that the works of God might be displayed in him, as long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

It changes the emphasis dramatically. Instead, the emphasis is on the work Jesus is doing and that he is calling the disciples to do. Jesus is the healer. We are also included in that: “we must do the works of him who sent me”. We are called to do His works.

Grace and Talents

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of a few men with varying talents (bags of gold):

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

I was thinking about this recently, and I realized that we often view this parable in terms of “God gave me 1 talent” or “God gave me 5 talents” with the focus being on what “God gave us.” I think a better way to understand Jesus’ intent is, how do we choose to invest what God has given us. Not long ago I lived a “1 talent” life.  I lived this Christian life in a minimalistic way. I did not dream big. I did not believe big. Perhaps I felt that was humility. As a result, I did not see a significant return on the Master’s investment.

When we see who we are in Christ, we can start to see that we all have vast talents. We can dream big, we can trust God to give us life, and to give it abundantly. We can take the abundance we are given and invest it in love into many lives. We can be partakers of the amazing things God is doing.

We are far too often deceived into believing the “small, humble life” is godliness. Sometimes what we call humility is really us living a 1 talent life because we fear that we might make a mistake, or that the “ruler” is going to beat us if we make a mistake. God wants us to step out in faith and invest big into His kingdom. That is what He commended. He has given the talents to us. He has given the resources and authority as well. Let’s go get a great return!