I've been thinking a lot lately about all the verses in the Bible we don't really believe. We SAY we do, but it seems from all appearances inarguable, undeniable, that our actions and habits reveal our disbelief.
For example, the Bible says, "The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" (1 Corinthians 12:21). In that verse, Paul is speaking about the interdependence of each of us, as members of the Body of Christ, on the other members of the Body. But, shoot, we say that all the time. We even say it loudly and proudly. And we certainly say it with our actions, when we give up on someone, or turn away from someone, or leave a church in a huff. Because we don't really believe 1 Corinthians 12:21.
Neither do we believe Jesus' words, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38). If we believed those words, the church in the U.S. would give far more than 1.7 percent of our income toward the Lord's work, as research says we do.
Another verse we don't believe is this one: "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (1 Timothy 5:17). If it said "double criticism" or "double suspicion," we would be much closer. But double honor? I don't see elders and pastors being accorded that kind of honor, at least not in our culture.
Take Jesus' words in Matthew 5:22: "I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment." We don't really believe that. Let me say it again: we don't believe Jesus' words. We nurse our anger, we're proud of it. We spread it around. We refuse to let go of it. We can't possibly believe that we are subject to judgment, or we would certainly act differently.
Or, "if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:15). Dang, if we truly believed those words of Jesus, if we REALLY thought our Savior spoke truth, we would act a WHOLE lot differently! Shoot, some of us even pray every day, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," and ACT as if those words have absolutely no meaning! We are inviting judgment on ourselves with our words and our actions when we don't forgive.
And, by the same token, can we honestly say we believe Jesus' words: "In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Matthew 7:2)? Oh my. I am constantly amazed--flabbergasted--at people who can be so "righteously" angry at a brother or sister for the very things--the VERY THINGS!--they are blind to in themselves.
I had a dear brother, a long-time friend say to me not long ago, "I don't think I'll EVER be able to forgive some people." And he KNEW as he said it (I know, because I asked him) that he was condemning himself with his own words, revealing a spirit in him that may be worse in God's eyes than whatever offenses he is holding against others.
How can we do such things, how can we act in such ways, in light of what the Bible teaches, what Jesus so clearly--bluntly--said? It can only be one thing: we don't believe. We can't possibly call ourselves "believers," let alone "Christian," under such circumstances. Can we?