I love this passage from James, challenging though it is. How often do we allow ourselves to be “driven and tossed about by the wind?” How often do we allow our circumstances and the approval of those around us to drive us and toss us about? The gospel passage from Mark shows us how Jesus responded to “the wind” he encountered. Human as he was, he was frustrated (sighing from the depth of his spirit), but he refused to be driven by a need for approval or tossed about into their traps. So, we have a Savior who knows what it is like to face this kind of temptation and who wants to help us to stand firm. Learning to stand against the wind and waves of human approval builds our perseverance and builds our focus on the wisdom of God’s ways.
The verses from James assure us that God will give us wisdom generously and ungrudgingly if we ask in faith. Remembering God’s faithfulness to us in the past and the remembering the wisdom of His word can help us to bolster our ability to ask for this wisdom in faith. The image of the unstable ways of the person of two minds is a powerful one for me. I think that many of us struggle with the “but clauses” that we add onto our prayers. The but clauses are the precautions we take to do the “reasonable thing” to take care of the situation ourselves. Imagine the difference in the story in Mark if Jesus had been of two minds in this way – if he had prayed to do only what the Father showed him to do, but had reasoned that he would need the approval of the religious leaders to effectively minister to the Jewish people. Consider how that would have made his ministry unstable and less credible.
People would have been much less likely to marvel at how “he taught as one with authority.” The trouble with rooting out “but clauses” is that they are often tough to see. God does work through humans, so we are called to do things to improve situations, reconcile conflict, and bring healing. Sorting out the difference between a calling to address a situation and our own “but clause” solution can be difficult. God promises to give us wisdom if we ask and are willing to listen to the answer and be a person of one mind and heart. Jesus promises us the guidance of the Holy Spirit for discernment. Committing ourselves to listen and to be willing to cut off the “but clause” can be very scary. However, the alternative - being tossed about by the wind and waves - and being persons unstable in all our ways (and allowing ourselves to miss closer communion with our God who loves us intimately) is even scarier.
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