Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13 ESV
With such love comes heartfelt questions for his flock—questions that address our feeble nature while still necessitating an obedient reply. In my times of study, I noted three particular questions that followed Jesus’s compassionate declaration, oh you of little faith.
Our merciful Lord and Savior meets us with compassion rather than cruelty. Recognizing the mustard seed faith that brought us to seek Him and find Him, He knows that by abiding in Him our faith will grow. Still, right now, in the little, three questions are asked. Questions we can and should continue to ask ourselves, too, in the pursuit of being rooted and established in our faith.
Why are you afraid? (Matthew 8:26)
Why do you doubt? (Matthew 14:31)
Why do you reason among yourselves? (Matthew 16:8)
Why Are You Afraid?
How many times are we told in Scripture to fear not? Over and over, to say the least. As I’ve considered human fear comparatively to the fear of the Lord, I’ve realized that man-made fear actually opposes God. Fear is an act of unbelief, which is sin.
Don’t get me wrong, there are moments where natural responses in our body motivate us to flee from immediate danger. But this could more aptly be called wisdom. Fear is based in trepidation and removes our focus from God’s love and promised provision of sufficient, abounding grace for our every need.
In fact, 1 John 4:18 says,
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Why then are we afraid? And what do we do about it. Fear not can’t not explain the way out. God’s commands always carry a promise by faith, and every temptation a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
To fear not is actually to choose reverential fear of God. One fear is sinful, one is holy. By standing firm in faith, we declare assurance of God’s promises and are blessed with provision of all else.
So then, fear not little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).
Why Do You Doubt?
Poor Thomas, the doubter. He’s forever gone down in history as the one disciple who needed to see and touch Jesus’s wounds to believe He’d truly been resurrected. Jesus’s mercy still offered him the opportunity to believe in spite of doubt, yet Jesus also set forth the command: do not disbelieve, but believe. The KJV translates it be not faithless, but believing. So again, to doubt is unbelief. It is sin, according to Hebrews 3:13,19.
Like the serpent’s successful implant in the garden, we continue to be riddled with the pestering internal conundrum of doubt: did God really say…
All that God intended to say, all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), has been given.
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. – 2 Peter 1:19
Doubt may be a natural response, part of the stain of sin, yet it must be put to death like the rest of our old selves when it comes to faith. Jesus told us to believe is our work. It is the task of our vaporous existence: this is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent (John 6:29).
Considering Peter actually walked on water—wonder of wonders for a mere mortal!—when he took his eyes off Jesus, when he looked around at the reality of the world, he sunk. He doubted the impossible possibilities of faith, for with God all things are possible! (Mark 10:27)
Why Do You Reason?
We know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Imagine, then, the disciples had the Word Himself right in front of them, but still chose to work out their lack of understanding among themselves instead. Oh you of little faith! Why do we reason within our own minds, or in conversation with others?
Man’s wisdom will never be God’s wisdom. His ways are so much higher!
The command of the Lord is this: come, let us reason together! (Isaiah 1:18). This type of reasoning is humble, it’s reverential. It recognizes God’s fullness and our lack. His holiness and our filth.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! – Psalm 111:10 ESV
All those who practice bending the knee and seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) find both good understanding and the sufficiency of His grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).
God’s praise endures forever, hallelujah!
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. – Romans 16:25-27 ESV