Sincerity

Saturday Spotlight: Thomas

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Thomas said that he wouldn’t believe Jesus had risen from death unless he saw and touched the scars in Jesus’ hands and the wound in his side. The risen Christ gave Thomas the opportunity to do just that. (John 20:26-28) Unfortunately, Thomas’s moment of doubt became his defining moment—and he became labeled as Doubting Thomas. Would we have done doubted any less? Besides, his doubt didn’t keep Thomas from being chosen to be Jesus’s disciple.

 

 

There’s so much more to Thomas than his doubt. When Jesus decided to go back to Judea the apostles tried to talk him out of it, reminding him that the people there wanted to kill him. (John 11:8) It was Thomas who said to the others, “Let us all go along with the Teacher so that we may die with him!”

 

 

Thomas had courage, but that didn’t stop him from questioning. When Jesus tried to tell the apostles that he was going to the Father to prepare a place for his disciples, he told them they knew the way. Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; so how can we know the way to get there?” Jesus responded, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:4-6) They did know the Way, because Jesus is the Way, and they certainly knew him. But the Way is also the Truth. Thomas was a disciple because he not only had the courage to die with Jesus, he had the courage to speak the truth of his heart.

 

 

His doubt did not prevent him from being chosen by Jesus to be an apostle. I think the secret is Thomas’s sincerity. He didn’t pretend to have a level of faith beyond what he had. Thomas was honest about his reservations. That’s where Jesus met him. That’s where Jesus meets all of us—right where we are…if we let him. We never have to pretend to be better than we are with God. He knows all about our weaknesses anyway, and that doesn’t stop him from loving us or inviting us to follow him. Our insecurities, doubts and fears don’t have to define us, either. There was more to Thomas than his flaws. There’s more to us, too.

 

 

Prayer: Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

 

 

Reflection for sharing: What doubts can you share with God today?

Wednesday”s Word: All Heart or All Talk?

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The Lord Said, “These people claim to worship me, but their words are meaningless, and their hearts are somewhere else. Their religion is nothing but human rules and traditions, which they have simply memorized.” Isaiah 29: 13

 

Meaningless words—I’ve spoken them. I’ve rattled off prayers while my heart’s been somewhere else. I’ve also rattled off words when my heart wanted to pray but my mind was so crowded with confusion or fear that I couldn’t concentrate. There’s a difference. Thankfully, God seems to care more about our hearts than our brains.

 

Ideally, when we talk to God in prayer and worship, our minds, hearts, and words are all united. But we aren’t perfect. Minds wander. We may not be able to concentrate for any number of reasons. I think God understands that. After all, he made us human, therefore, limited. What Isaiah is warning against is insincerity.  Just going through the motions and outward compliance doesn’t go deep enough. If our hearts aren’t reached, if we aren’t changed, the externals won’t do us much good.

 

So how do we make ourselves sincere when we worship God? It might help to think about why he is “worship-able.” God is love. When we get in touch with His dynamic love, when we recognize that we are loved, warts and all, when we accept that unconditional love—even when we least deserve it—how can we help but be affected? When we are filled with love, it begs to be shared. We’re empowered to love God, who first loved us, with a love that will also flow out to others.

 

Prayer:  Lord, warm my heart with your love so I may love and honor you and yours.

 

Reflection for sharing:  If your heart is “somewhere else” today, how can you open it to God’s love?

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Meditations

But Jesus answered “The scripture says, ‘Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks.’” (Matthew 4:4)

 

All Bible quotes are from the Good News Translation unless otherwise noted.

 

It is reassuring that Jesus called fishermen and tax collectors to be his followers. These were laymen, not Scripture experts. It is wise to seek guidance from religious scholars and clergy who have studied Scripture to avoid errors in interpretation. But the Bible is also a gift given to each of us, to use as a basis for prayer and meditation.

 

I’m not a Biblical scholar; I’m an expert only on my own experience. Following the Scripture passage is a brief meditation along with a question or two as a springboard for your own reflections. Please feel free to share your own thoughts or insights on the passage by adding a comment. All comments are moderated, so please allow some time for your comment to be posted.

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