Scripture: “And they (the ladies) went out and fled from the tomb for trembling and astonishment had seized them and they said nothing to anyone (for they were afraid)…But when they (the disciples) heard that he was alive and had been seen by her they would not believe it…After these things he (Jesus) appeared in another form to two of them (probably the Road to Emmaus incident) as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest but they (the disciples) did not believe them…
Afterward he (Jesus) appeared to the Eleven themselves as they were reclining at table and he (Jesus) rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart—because they (the disciples) had not believed those who saw him after he had risen…” excerpts from Mark 16; verses 8; 11; 12; and 14.
Observation: I see a common theme here: Unbelief. Jesus related it to hardness of heart as well. This is about folks (disciples) who hung out with Jesus for the past 3 years—and they had issues with belief? What makes me think I am above them? What makes me think I don’t have issues with believing? What makes me think I am not carrying around a hard heart?
Application: And it is said that high blood pressure is a silent killer…
Ok: Unbelief may not be in that same category but in some ways it could be. Unbelief hides—mostly in plain sight (only if I am looking for it).
Where does it hide? It could hide in activity; knowledge; excuses; lack of humility; all the “self’s—self-determination, self-reliance, self-atonement; selfishness, etc. I know that I can and have and am encountering these on a daily basis. I rely on me—I say I rely on Him who is my Lord buy in a number of ways I do not acknowledge all my ways as belonging to Jesus.
There are a few things I should do to combat unbelief. One thing that certainly does not work is “Believe harder…” as if physical or mental effort exerted can increase belief. My experience is that it just gives me a headache…
1. Plant the Word of God in my heart. No, strike that—Pound the Word in my heart. Consider the Scriptures as more true than what my eyes see and my mind conceives. This is hard work and takes years—only because there is sooooo much sin and rebellion lodged in my heart that has to be supplanted.
2. Cultivate humility. I have a little wall document in my cubical “How to weaken Pride and Cultivate Humility.” I review this every day—sometimes I review deeply, most times I just gloss/speed read over it. But it is a useful reminder of how I should approach growth in righteousness—incrementally and take the long view.
3. Diligently practice the Spiritual Disciplines. I am writing or journaling like this. I am also making sure I write to the “man in the mirror”, being transparent and fierce with my own heart only.
4. Continually acknowledge that I must preserve to the End to be saved. To do that I don’t whip up my heart to a bonfire, I must stoke the embers of my heart to produce a consistent flame. Fellowship with brothers/sisters I trust enough to confess the depth of my dark, dark heart may be the best way to start.
The disciples were REBUKED by Jesus—not scolded, not downplayed, not met with “oh, I totally understand your temporary doubt”—they were rebuked. I deserve every bit of that rebuke on a daily basis—and I press in to avoid the need for that rebuke from my Lord.
Prayer: Father, I hope that I don’t communicate condemnation with the above. I don’t feel or think I am condemned when I fall short—I am continually reviewing the Gospel to combat unbelief in that area and getting up, brushing off the dirt, and getting back on the road. The older I get I experience more difficulty—only because I am getting into more detail and depth—it is harder to remove and put to death those bitter roots of indwelling Sin. You have unshackled me from the dominion of Sin; help me to mortify Sin in my body (and mind) daily. I want a soft heart, fertile for your Word…AMEN.