But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.
If you have been following along, this is our second week on studying the Book of James. If you would like a free copy of the Bible study guide, you can get it here. But, do it soon as it won't be available for free much longer.
In our last lesson, we learned one of the reasons why we still struggle with sin after coming to Jesus is because we need these “testing” times for God to shape us into a perfect completed being. Our reaction to these times of testing in life, James said, is “to count it all joy.” In other words, we should look on those times when we struggle with temptation with joy, because we are being made perfect in Christ. James is not encouraging us to look with joy on suffering, sickness or troubles of any kind. That would be absurd! For who can watch the suffering of another with joy? Or who in the midst of heartache can genuinely rejoice at their sorrow? Whenever I come across odd sayings like this in the Bible, I always grab my Strong’s Concordance and do a thorough word search. Careful examination of the Scriptures shows that the NIV and other newer translations changed the Greek word peirasmos which means "temptation" to trials or suffering. Ensuring that for the past 30 or more years Christians have been deceived into thinking they have to be joyful over whatever woes come their way. They do not!
In today's lesson, James begins by talking about various temptations and how they are meant to produce in us patience or endurance so that we become perfected in Christ. Then he goes on to talk about asking God for wisdom. If you take this verse out of context (which many of us have done), James would suddenly be talking about what we should do when we need wisdom on any subject. And yes, we can ask God for wisdom about anything, but in this case, when we look at the context of the surrounding verses, we see that James is saying we can ask God for wisdom on how to deal with the temptation to sin. But, he adds, we must ask in faith, and we must not waver (doubt).
If you are going to ask God for wisdom in dealing with certain temptations, you need to be able to make a distinction between your desires and God’s desires for you. When James encourages his readers to ask for wisdom he is not talking about asking God for wisdom on “anything” (although we can do that), but for wisdom on how to deal with the temptation to sin. We must ask in faith that God will provide a way out. We can make all kinds of excuses to continue sinning, but if we do, we are unstable, as James says, in all our ways.
You are either going to obey God, and take up your cross and follow Him, or you are going to succumb to temptation. But you can’t do both. This is how God shapes us into people fit for His kingdom. The temptation to sin builds character, patience, and perseverance if you don’t give into it. Are you allowing God to work His way within you or are you giving into temptation?
Faith that works seeks the Lord’s wisdom and not our own.