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 1: 5-8
started blogging here in July of 2012, but about 5 years earlier I created a profile on Blogger and slightly attempted blogging back then. Although I post far less than most others, that first blog was nearly non-existent, and I never publicized it at all.
My feeble first venture was themed "Resisting Double-Mindedness."
This is because I often find great disparity between the man that I am and the man that God calls me to be.
I saw then, as I do now, that blogging helps me in a few ways, but one of those ways is keeping me accountable; accountable to God and to others for what I post here, and accountable for how what I write might influence someone else (for the good or for the bad).
Whenever I get frustrated (or really aggravated) with others, it's always helpful to do a good examination of conscience. God often keeps me in check when I weigh myself and my own actions against His Word and His example.
As with anything good, the devil - (and I digress for a moment)Yes, I believe the devil exists. I believe Holy Scripture. I believe Jesus and the accounts of His life and testimonies of the "eyewitnesses" to His Resurrection, many of whom suffered great torment and death rather than deny such (would you die for a lie?) - tries to manipulate that into something negative, so it's important to understand whether one is being convicted or accused.
Feeling accused can lead one to fail to grasp that Jesus says "...remove the plank from your own eye first. Then you will be able to see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5)
And we are accountable for others. In the first reading in today's Divine Office, Office of Readings, God says to Ezekiel:
If a virtuous man turns away from virtue and does wrong when I place a stumbling block before him, he shall die. He shall die for his sin, and his virtuous deeds shall not be remembered; but I will hold you responsible for his death if you did not warn him. When, on the other hand, you have warned a virtuous man not to sin, and he has in fact not sinned, he shall surely live because of the warning, and you shall save your own life. - Ezekiel 3: 20, 21
Notice that God does not tell Ezekiel that a "stumbling block" is an excuse for the persistent sinner. Rather, He makes it clear that there are consequences for his actions. Likewise, there are consequences for the prophet as well.
We can't be content thinking "It's just me and Jesus." No, that's where it needs to begin, because many people doubt. They doubt Who Jesus is. They doubt in a God that cannot be grasped by the human intellect in spite of how hard they might try. This can be a real "stumbling block".
I don't publicly reveal much about any personal doubts I have about God or my Faith mainly because I do not want to ever become someone else's stumbling block.
But of course, from time to time, my faith is challenged in one way or another through various "doubts." Usually, these are overcome through prayer, further study, counsel from trusted advisers, or a combination.
So, is it sinful to doubt? Well, that depends.
There are two kinds of doubt. There is voluntary doubt and involuntary doubt.
First, let's look at involuntary doubt. These can be moments of "hesitation" to believe, perhaps prompted by the limitations of human intellect. Involuntary doubt may also be a "difficulty" one has in overcoming certain stumbling blocks or personal objections to the faith. Involuntary doubt though, is a moving target. It prompts questions, questions without predisposed answers. Those questions can be an assent to the truth and lead to new, renewed, or stronger faith.
Voluntary doubt, on the other hand, disregards or rejects what God has revealed and the Church teaches. This means one is persistent, obstinate in his/her doubt to the point of utter disbelief.
It is not the doubter who questions with the heart of one in search for God or on a journey of Faith who falters. Rather, it is the one whose obstinate cultivation of doubt who eventually becomes spiritually blind and deaf.
It is he that James is speaking of. May I continue to seek to overcome my double-mindedness and may the Holy Spirit dispel all of my doubts.
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.