Last year Life magazine did a cover story about Abigail & Brittany Hensel, now eighteen year old conjoined twins. It was also written about here. “One Body with Two Souls”
Perhaps inappropriately, there is a fascination in the public toward Siamese (conjoined) twins. Born as an accident of nature, there is something almost unnatural about two people, inseparable in the flesh. In frontier days, conjoined twins were exploited by circuses as side-show attractions and were used as a spectacle that people would pay to see.
This is the spirit of what the writer of the book of James (Jesus half-brother) has in mind when he ‘invents’ a word in James 1: 8. He writes,
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
James writes to the dispersed Jews who have been scattered across the Roman Empire and tells his readers to ask without doubting. “…For God gives generously, without finding fault.” Here James is encouraging the reader that God doesn’t mind the asking. I does not resent being asked for guidance. The idea here is to ask with trust; asking while living in an expectation of fulfillment.
For example, I asked for a Greek Analytical Lexicon for Christmas; and I lived in an expectation of receiving it ( it did help that I ordered it online, picked it up and gave it to Julie to wrap ). Until the end of last semester I had continuously signed out and renewed, and renewed, and renewed a Lexicon from the library for about seven months. I was so sure that I was going to get one for Christmas that I returned the library copy before school was done. I asked in faith, without doubting.
James says to ask and trust that the one you have asked will come through for you. In verse 6 James compares one who asks without faith to a wind-driven wave; without substance or direction. A faithless asker is a person who asks God and then strives to provide for themselves. They ask for a gift for Christmas and then go out and buy it themselves, not trusting the provider to provide.
James finally slams the faithless asker calling them double-minded, and unstable. The word in the Greek is a unique creation, used only by James and literally means ‘two-souled’. It carries a creepy , almost unnatural feel to it. In the way a deformed child at birth is compromised, unstable, and in physical jeopardy, so a ‘two-souled man’ is conflicted, deceived, and spiritualy unstable; asking God but trusting himself.
There is a worldly soul, one who trusts only in himself. He makes no consideration of a greater purpose in life and therefore has no expectations of anything greater than what he can make or he can conceive. Everything in this person’s life terminates on them. Nothing exists outside of them and when they are gone, effectively, the world ends. James says there is a worse state to live in.
He says to ask God for wisdom, and care, and then trust yourself to fulfill it is worse. You are deformed soul; unstable and unable to continue. You make requests for God and then blame him when you aren’t able to construct things in life to your satisfaction. Worst of all, you ask God for forgiveness and then set about engineering the conditions you perceive to be sufficient for providing for your own salvation. You are a freak of nature, sure to collapse.
James uses this ‘invented’ word one more time in his epistle, in 4: 8 where he admonishes the reader,
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
I ask God things all the time but do I trust in his provision? Do I believe that God is capable of doing what he says he will do? My evil twin Noel, the one that thinks I just need to get to work is not just an annoyance to the part of my soul that trusts in God to provide; it is the enemy of my soul, the part of my soul that must be put to death.
Where God guides, he provides.