14. The arch enemy of single mindedness
I’m sure my life is not that much different than everyone else’s. All this week, I’ve had a lot of distractions away from the office and at home. My wedding anniversary, my son’s birthday, my family is coming down, Hannah came back from England, we are celebrating Christmas early, different things breaking down at the house, plus my time in the office.
Most translations don’t have the word single-mindedness in the Bible, but there are two uses of the word “double-mindedness” in the book of James, which is more of the opposite of being single-minded in its use this week in BELIEVE.
Since our reading doesn’t include the passages from James, I thought I would write on those today. James 1:8 and James 4:8 both speak of the consequences of doublemindedness.
James 1:8 says, “he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
Unfortunately, doublemindedness does not stay in the mind. It leads to beyond our thoughts.
Our preoccupations. I think it is interesting that “worry” is translated into Spanish as “preocupación”. Martin Luther said, “I have so many things to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” I think for men it is easier to be single-minded, but just not always on the things of the Lord. For Luther, he was single-minded on God and especially to prayer. For other men, it’s easy to be distracted from serving the Lord. You know, the age-old example of a man not stopping for bathrooms until he gets to the Grand Canyon, even if he’s driving from New York.
On the other hand, it’s biologically and psychologically easier for women to multi-task, and as a result to get distracted from being focused on God. The synapses between the two halves of the brain are demonstratively proven to be more interrelated for most females than most males. Yet both genders have their distractions.
Our passions. James 4:8 challenges us to purify our hearts. Our passions will often follow our thoughts and our desires will often lead us astray. Do you ponder things that you know are going to lead you to being dissatisfied emotionally? Some people will say, “It doesn’t matter what I think about, I’m not going to do anything about it.” Unfortunately, that is not the case. Yes there are a few times when out of a moment of unanticipated passion someone acts on a sin. But most of the time our actions are premeditated.
Our paths. James 1:8 says that we will be “unstable in all his ways.” One of the consequences of being doubleminded is instability in many areas of our lives. If you go upwards just a couple of verses in James 1, he speaks about praying in faith, and not wavering, which leads us back to Martin Luther’s quote. Do you have so much to do today or between now and December 25th? If so, you must spend time and center your thoughts and prayers and mind on Christ. Then all the rest of the things that preoccupy your passions and paths “shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:23).