“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Life can be confusing. At times more questions seem to pop up then answers. Living as a Christian is no different… in fact often this can lead to more confusion. It’s sometimes hard to see why things happen in life, why we go through certain trials, tragedies or circumstances. Doubt seems to hold a common place in our lives.
However, is it a lack of faith in God to doubt? Is it a sign of spiritual weakness? Well that all depends on how we understand doubt and our attitude to it.
In this well known passage in James, we read that God will not answer someone’s prayer if they are doubting. The one who doubts is like a wave tossed around by the wind, lacking in direction and certainty. One could jump to the conclusion from this is that our doubt highlights a lack of faith and trust in God and is therefore the sin that is blocking our relationship with God.
However, doubt should not necessarily be viewed as a bad thing. In itself, it should not be condemned in our lives. Rather, it is our response to doubt that is important. How we respond to it will highlight where God stands in our lives, and the true nature of our hearts before God and others.
As a result the doubt and insecurity that can creep into our minds, the question can arise, “How do I really know I am a Christian?” (I wrote a blog on this recently). This world can be very confusing and the assurance of our faith can be challenged. However, the Bible is clear that as a Christian we are given a new heart and are changed within (), born again (, ), in order that we may have eternal life with God. As a result of that, how we live our lives will change (, 13:23, ). Therefore, one can logically see that what we believe governs how we live. What we hold dear in our heart will filter out to how we approach life.
When doubt comes along, a healthy response to it is to seek God more, to ask Him why, and to read the Bible for answers or explanations that provide understanding. It is a good thing to experience doubt if you seek God for the answers and trust Him no matter the outcome. Doubt can be a tool to strengthen our faith in God as we learn more about Him and trust in Him as a child trusts a father. To lean on God even when the answers may not come our way or they are not what we expect. That shows a faith that is grounded and unshakeable, assuring us that, regardless the outcome, we are secure in God’s care.
However, the flip-side of this is that doubt can lead us to despair and unbelief. Many think of doubt as the opposite of faith, but that’s not true. Unbelief is the opposite of faith. Where faith says “I will choose to believe in God even though I don’t understand it all”, unbelief will say “I choose to not believe in God because I don’t understand it all”.
So, doubt in itself is not an unhealthy symptom of a feeble faith, but rather a vehicle God can use to draw us closer to Him. It’s a tool in which He can test the convictions of our heart and strengthen our trust in Him, so that we may mature in our character and hope () and not base our relationship with Him on fleeting feelings and circumstances. Our faith is based on the fact that we are redeemed and saved by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who died for our sins so we can enjoy God forever. Our response to that is to be of one mind, not continually lured away by allowing our flesh and this world to be the driving-force of our lives. That is to be tossed around around as a wave is by the wind. Not embracing who we are as Christians and therefore being double minded in how we approach decisions in our lives is what leads to a double minded, frustrated and fruitless life.
So if you have doubt, don’t worry or think you are lacking in faith. Rather, see it as an opportunity to seek God our Father and to ask Him for guidance and to strengthen our faith. In doing so we, will highlight to Him that our heart is to seek Him and not run, to follow and obey Him whatever comes our way.
God will gladly give us what we need. It may not be what we expect, but it will be what we need to mature in our character and be better prepared for what lies ahead and to glorify God with our lives.
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.