Growing a Faith that Works – A Study Through the Book of James – James 1 – Part 4

 What if I fail?



If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:5-8 NIV


We finished the last devotion with encouragement to have an unwavering hope in God and to trust in Him regardless of our circumstances. We have been encouraged to seek God for wisdom in our trials. There is a question of course, that still remains, “What if I fail? What if I misinterpret God’s Word and His will? While God is faithful to provide wisdom generously and without finding fault, what happens if I think I am following God, but I make a mistake?”  


What if I misunderstand His Word?  What if I am walking in integrity and stay focused on God’s purpose and plans, yet I fail?


The answer may lie in Genesis 20. In Genesis 20, Abimelech was excited to meet the newest member of his harem, Sarah, the wife of Abraham. God appeared to Abimelech in a dream and warned him that Sarah was already another man’s wife.

But one night God spoke to Abimelech in a dream and said, “You will die. The woman you took is married.”

But Abimelech had not gone near Sarah, so he said, “Lord, would you destroy an innocent nation? Abraham himself told me, ‘This woman is my sister,’ and she also said, ‘He is my brother.’ I am innocent. I did not know I was doing anything wrong.” Genesis 20:3-4 NCV

Abimelech heard the message from God and was very afraid. He didn’t intend to sin against God. He didn’t intend to turn God away. He was doing the best he knew how at that time. God responds to Abimelech with grace. Here’s what He says.

“6 Then God said to Abimelech in the dream, “Yes, I know you did not realize what you were doing. So I did not allow you to sin against me and touch her. Give Abraham his wife back. He is a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will not die. But if you do not give Sarah back, you and all your family will surely die.” Genesis 20:6-7 NCV (emphasis mine)


That’s interesting. This verse shows that God protected Abimelech from falling into sin. God’s words to Abimelech are encouraging to us today because He was basically telling Abimelech, “You made a mistake, but since your heart was still right, I protected you in your wrong decision.” This is very encouraging because it gives us the assurance that according to James, while God does give wisdom to His people, even if we don’t hear Him right or if we make the wrong choices, if God resides in our hearts, He will protect and guide us as He did with Abimelech.


I have fallen into the trap before of a “paralysis of analysis.” I have been literally paralyzed while analyzing my situations to determine what I should do.


While James gives me the assurance that God will provide wisdom, Genesis 20 gives me the freedom to move forward with God – even with uncertainty at times – because God will protect me even if I am moving in the wrong direction, if my heart is set on Him.


Thank You Holy Spirit for Your greatness and mercy. Thank You that You are gracious for those moments when I fail and go astray. Thank You that though I fail, You will not. In the strong name of Jesus Christ, amen.


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