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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, April 04 2024

The danger of being double-minded

The Apostle James twice uses the term ‘double-minded’ (James 1:8; James 4:8) and highlights succumbing to double-mindedness as a problem that can manifest itself in several areas of our lives and damage our walk with God.

The Greek word translated "double-minded" is dipsuchos, from dis, meaning "twice," and psuche, meaning "mind." James uses it to describe someone who is divided in his interests or loyalties or two-faced and half-hearted. Double-mindedness is a theme throughout his letter.


The first area of double-mindedness James addressed concerns how we pray (James 1:5-8). James describes one who is dubious and indecisive in prayer as "a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

He warns us to be careful what we pray for: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss..." (James 4:3)--- indicating we need to regularly assess whether our attitudes are in tune with the will of God.

The Apostle John also stressed the role of obedience in prayer: "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:22).

Hearing Without Doing

James's second warning concerns the double-minded hearing of God's Word (James 1:22-25) but not putting what we have learned into action. He admonishes his readers to "be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (verse 22).

Biased Fellowship

Our fellowship can also mirror our double-mindedness, and James addresses the conduct of Christians in their assemblies. Do wealthy church members receive special treatment when they "come into your assembly"? (James 2:2). James was aware of the problems that can result from hypocritical, two-faced fellowship because he was indirectly involved in a conflict between the apostles Paul and Peter (Galatians 2:11-16).

Peter showed partiality in fellowship when "certain men came from James" (Galatians 2:12). In this instance he "would eat with the Gentiles; but when they [Jewish believers sent from James] came, he withdrew and separated himself [from eating with the gentiles], fearing those who were of the circumcision."

Peter grew into a great leader and man of God, but in this instance he strayed from a lesson Jesus had taught him years before through an earlier vision. "In truth I perceived that God shows no partiality," Peter learned at the time that: "... in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (Acts 10:34-35).

Selective Obedience

When we read the Ten Commandments, we notice the first four reflect love toward God and the last six depict the love of our neighbor as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; James 2:8).

James highlights the double-mindedness of embracing one point of the Ten Commandments while breaking another point. Notice that the breaking of one point of the law is the same as breaking the "whole law" (James 2:10-11).

It's much easier to pay lip service to the broad expression of God's law—love (Leviticus 19:18)—than to embrace the specifics of it (Exodus 20:1-17). The Bible, however, plainly defines love: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

Unbridled Tongue

If with our tongue "we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men" (James 3:9), then we're speaking out of both sides of our mouth and are therefore double-minded (James 3:1-12).

Before passing along information that could hurt someone, we should ask ourselves: Does this need to be said? Would more harm come by saying it or not saying it? If it needs to be said, am I sharing it with the right person?

Controlling our tongue is very difficult as James points out: "... If there is anyone who never stumbles in speech, that man has reached maturity of character and is able to curb his whole nature" (James 3:2, Weymouth New Testament).

Our conversation—our speech—speaks to our spiritual maturity or lack of it. Before examining the words that flow from our mouth, we should examine the thoughts of our minds and hearts for, as Jesus said, "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34).

Faith Without Works

Double-minded faith (James 2:14-26) is believing in God without performing the actions, or the "works," that reflect that belief. Every Christian should be aware that "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20), and James challenges us to show tangible evidence of our beliefs: "Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works" (verse 18).