If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. (James 1:5-8, NLT)
God is the author and source of true wisdom. His is a heavenly wisdom like nothing from earth, it’s Kingdom understanding and conduct. It’s all too easy to let earthly thinking creep into our lives as we conduct our affairs, but Scripture encourages us to focus on the things above (Colossians 3:2). The very moment we let earthly thinking into our minds we lose our God-given ability to make right choices and begin to slowly drift from God’s way to man’s ways. As a result we lose our destiny and joy, just like Eve in the Garden of Eden.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6, NIV)
James, our Lord’s brother, admonishes the believers in his church for this very thing. From the text we see that God is ready and eager to give us wisdom. All we have to do is ask for it. That seems easy enough, right? The only prerequisite is that we ask with faith in God alone. In other words, we shouldn’t mix our emotions or worldly thinking into our request. To do so is to ask for advice when inside you’ve already made your decision. In that case, even when God grants us wisdom, we filter it through our own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 specifically warns us against leaning on our own understanding. Why? Surely it makes sense to take account of how you feel about things? No! Your feelings can mislead you. Your emotions can cause you to see things that are not there. When you go to God, go with faith—untainted faith—in Him alone.
James compares wavering faith—faith that is ever-shifting—to a person with divided loyalty. You cannot be in God’s Kingdom and behave like the people of the world. A worldly mentality can creep into believers (leaders and pastors are not exempt!) and they soon become carnal Christians. They may have knowledge of God, know the Bible, pray eloquent prayers, preach great sermons and talk God-talk, but their behaviour reveals the true nature of their divided heart.
I’ve grown a few fruit trees (mostly apple and pear) and seeing the saplings mature always brings me a sense of fulfilment, knowing that I planted it and took care of it, and now it’s bearing fruit. Part of growing fruit is tending to the trees daily. If left alone, fruits flies and other bugs gather and turn a healthy tree into one with clear problems. The leaves begin to turn yellow and then go brown, new leaves never open, and the trees soon lose their lush, vibrant green look. It never ceases to amaze me that such small creatures can strip a tree of life and stop it producing fruit.
A tree that is cared for is different. Once a tree has been sprayed the flies die off and the tree soon comes back to life. Flowers and fruit follow. This taught me a valuable lesson: beware what you allow on your tree! Similarly, beware what you harbour in your mind. Just like pests can creep in and stifle a once-thriving tree, slowly killing its fruit-bearing potential, so the world can invade us. Guard the tree of your mind (see Romans 12).
James is saying the same in this passage: tend to your own tree and watch out for the small things that come in and steal your joy, your faith, and eventually your love for God and His people. God will never bless a double-minded man because his loyalty has been divided between God and the world, between Kingdom thinking and worldly behaviour.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23, NKJV)
Jesus makes it clear that these were people who did the work of ministry but lost their intimacy with God. They started well, but over time drifted away from being God-centred to focus on their own agendas and performance. They had a form of godliness but denied its power (2 Timothy 3:5). These are all signs of divided loyalty. James warns us that a person like this should not expect anything from God.
Upon closer examination of a divided person you will find that everything else in their lives is also unstable: their marriage, their kids, their friendships and their conduct. It’s important to have a good testimony in our workplace. Years ago, before my pastor brought me on staff at church, he asked my then-boss what was I like as an employee. Thankfully I passed that test! But if we have a terrible reputation in the world then how can we expect to win the lost? And if we have a terrible reputation in His house how can we expect to be used to further His Kingdom? Of course, it’s easy to jump ship, find a new fellowship, and start all over again. But the ‘new start’ is a deception. You’re just transferring your double-minded behaviour to a new location. After a while it will manifest again.
If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:26-27, NLT)
Notice James’ final words in this chapter. Part of being a believer is controlling your tongue, not speaking your mind but speaking God’s Word and conducting yourself in accordance with Scripture. Believers with worldly thinking often slip into justifying their actions by taking Scripture outside of its intended meaning. It’s easy to make the Bible say what it’s not saying, but it just serves to reveal more of their double-mindedness.
People with pure and genuine faith love and care for those who can’t do anything for them in return. They don’t think of ‘my people’ but ‘His people’. Jesus died for everyone, regardless of race, age or culture. He loves everyone and desires that we walk in the fullness of His blessings. It’s not about one person’s agenda but about God’s Kingdom being established on the earth.
Let me encourage you to renew your faith connection and love for the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and examine your heart. It’s easy to shrug things off as ‘it’s them, not me’, but could it be that you’ve begun to drift? God wants to lead you back to a first love encounter where nothing else will come between you and His house. David prayed and asked God to reveal His heart and motives: ‘search me and try me, see if there be any wicked way in me’ (Psalm 51). God is the author and perfector of our faith. He’s plants us, but we’ve got to look after ourselves.
God’s will for our lives is that we see fruit as we build His house. We are called to lead men and woman to Him. Maybe it’s time to go before God with an undivided heart and ask Him for that intimate walk again. Perhaps you’ve allowed things in your life that have damaged your tree; its lush, vibrant leaves have become anaemic and it has lost its fruit. It’s not too late! Repent and turn to God for wisdom. He will give generously to those who ask. Make yourself accountable. Talk things over with your senior leaders and let’s move forward together and build His house, for the glory of God.
© 2020 Chip Kawalsingh / Harvest City Church