JOHN 12:44-48 (NIV) | “Then Jesus cried out, ‘Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
‘If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.’”
In John 12, Jesus places a strong emphasis on belief. Thirty-six times it is noted that he speaks of the need to believe. I have often stayed behind the scenes and kept things small in my life out of lack of belief. "If I do not dream too big," I thought, "then I will not have to realize just how small my faith is!"
Recently, God broke me of this by challenging my wife and me to launch a guesthouse for the care of pastors and missionaries. For me, it was a big step. How would we pay for it? What if no one wanted what we offered? Yet as we stepped out, God did provide, and we started our guesthouse. And, of course, suddenly I began to think that I was a man of great faith and that I had really learned this lesson on believing him!
Then, our finances hit a low spot and all the old fears came back. Did he really say he would take care of us? I was hugely disappointed in myself. How could I have so much belief one moment and question my belief entirely the next? Was I really that shallow? I felt like John 12:37 was true about me: “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.”
But then I started reading the rest of John, and I saw that Jesus understands me very well. In John 10:38, he told the Jewish leaders to believe the miracles to know that the Father is in him. He knew they needed some signs along the way to see who he was. In John 20:27, he invited Thomas to see and touch so that he would stop doubting and believe. He was patient and made room, even for doubting Thomas.
He explained in John 3:12 that growing in my ability to believe in regard to earthly things was my training ground for believing in heavenly things. It is a process for me to grow in my faith in him. In reality, it is not something that I can muster up at all! Like the father in Mark 9:24, I must cry out and say, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
How foolish I am to think that I am an expert in belief. Yet how foolish of me not to turn to the One who is and who came to give me his supernatural ability to believe. Instead of saying that I have arrived at great belief and faith, I think I will start saying that I live for the One who continually helps me grow in great belief and faith. Yeah, that's more like it!
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- Take a few minutes to recall some ways that you have seen God do things to show you who he is. Now focus on how miraculous those things really are.
- Under what circumstances are you most vulnerable and likely to doubt?
- How can you commit to “spying” God's wonders and miracles so that he can increase your ability to believe? Remember that he wants to help your unbelief!
This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Taft and his wife, Pam, have been with CRM since 2009. They are passionate about discipling, encouraging, and empowering church leaders to strengthen their marriages and ministries through coaching and retreats. They live in Charlotte, North Carolina and have two adult sons.