Faith is not a feeling. Feelings are influenced by what we see, hear, read and by what our circumstances look like. Thomas would not believe unless he could see; he would not believe unless he could touch where Jesus was nailed and cut by His side (John 20:25). He relied on what he could see and touch, not on what God had to say.
We have many Thomas-Christians today, that is, those who believe in only what they can feel, see, hear or touch. If we base our judgment on what we see only, it means we have not looked deep enough. If we base our judgment on what is seen only, we are bound to give wrong judgment. In the same way, when we are looking for a man of faith, or a genuine believer, we are tempted to look only at those outward qualities, such as: ➡️Speaking skills – ability to inspire people, ability to carry people along, ability to motivate an audience. ➡️Friendliness – the power to win people’s hearts.
No mention would be made of character or inner being because man’s judgment is limited. Such was the case of Thomas and those Christians in his camp today. But Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). This statement was made not to Christians by faith but to Christians by feelings.
We cannot understand God by feelings. We can only understand Him by what the Word says about Him. Thomas was so much overwhelmed by his feelings that he neglected what the Scripture had said about Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. God is everything the Word says He is so we need to get familiar with Him through the Word. Too many people try to get acquainted with God through their feelings. When they feel good, they think God has heard their prayers. When they don’t feel particularly good – I mean, when they feel God is unkind or unfair to them, they begin to rebel or murmur against God. They feel that God no longer answers their prayer; their faith is thus based on feelings.
Our knowledge of the Bible must be broad and holistic. Don’t make the Bible say what you want to hear. Don’t bring in what you think you need to hear. This is about what God has to say to you. Respond to Him in dialogue. That means it is as much about listening as it is about speaking. Open your eyes and your heart to hear His voice. You can read and think and pray all day but unless you live in God’s Word as well, you will miss the point. The Word helps man walk with God, receive from God and fulfil God’s will on the earth.
Those people who choose the Scriptures they want to live by are not eager about such other areas as holiness, consecration, evangelism, judgement and the love of God. However, these other areas and the love of God work in concert to develop man spiritually. But all that they want is merely to receive from God. They often pray – ‘God, give me, give me…’ It is true the Word of God talks about receiving from God. However, we cannot give out to others until we ourselves have received something from God.
We cannot rely on bits and pieces from the Bible to develop into strong, mature Christians. We need the whole counsel of God – all the bits strung, fastened and laced together in our lives – for us to develop into a strong spiritual man. Faith is important to our spiritual development because the Bible urges us to live by faith (Romans 1:17). However, we must also live a life of love because faith works by love.
David, John the Baptist and Peter, along with many other Biblical heroes, struggled with various doubts about God and His ability or desire to help. God does not mind doubt as long as you are seeking answers from Him in the midst of it. Doubt can become sin if it leads you away from God to scepticism, to cynicism, then to hard-heartedness.
As you move closer to God, you will find the strength to trust Him and your faith will grow even stronger. I mean, the closer you are to God, the more you receive Heavenly resources and the stronger your faith grows. One of satan’s tactics is to get you to doubt God’s goodness. He tries to get you to forget all God has given you and to focus on what you do not have. If you are spending much of your time thinking about what you do not have, you may be slipping into unhealthy doubt.
God has given everyone plenty of evidence to believe in Him. Doubt comes when you fail to stop long enough to observe all the evidence. Once in a while, you should create time to reflect over God’s track record in your life. As you recall God’s track record, you will grow confident that He will work in your present situation as well.
Today, our minds are so taken up by worldly considerations that we are impatient to recognise the fact that there is an appointed time for everything. This is why we try to move the hands of the clock forward by hook and crook. In order to beat the gun, we kill, join cults, steal and destroy.
Assuming Jesus had been impatient when his brothers urged Him to show off in public before the appointed time, He may have been killed by His enemies who were looking for Him at all costs (John 7:3-8). The same thing happens to us today. When we are impatient, we tend to disregard the fact that there is a time for everything.
We all know that when it is time to start a race, everybody waits for the blast of the gun or the sound of the whistle; but in our daily lives, the opposite is the case. In an attempt to beat the gun, we discover that we are the worse for it; we pay dearly for it.
If any person beats the gun, that person would be called back to begin afresh, while others are still waiting patiently for the sound of the gun. This is what we mean by the saying, “More haste, less speed”, meaning that if you are in a haste to achieve something, you are likely to make costly mistakes that would pull you back, if not down. This is exactly what is happening today.
In an attempt to beat God’s appointed time, we get ourselves entangled with conditions we are likely unable to meet, thus jeopardizing our career and the promises of God in our lives. In an attempt to beat God’s appointed time, many old people find themselves in a situation where they have to do what they ought to have done when they were young.
Will you be around tomorrow? This question, on a literal level requires a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer but on the deeper level, it expresses the uncertainties of life. It is surely reasonable to make plans for the future but we must always do so with an awareness of life’s uncertainties. As James 4:13-17 reminds us, life is a vapour that appears for a little time and then disappears. In James 1:10-11, James had earlier compared man and all that man could boast of to a beautiful flower which blossoms (prospers) for a while and then withers too soon. What then is the good in making long-term plans when you don’t even know what tomorrow will bring forth? God has purposely left us in the dark concerning future events.
James has nothing against making plans but he condemns the arrogance of those who think they can make their plans without reference to God. We must understand that we do not have any control over what becomes of us the next day. When we recognise who we are before God, we will see the need to always consider His will in everything we do, in everything we say and in every plan we make.