When our family returned to the States after living in England for three years, our four-year-old son Luke talked about missing his “green door”. He was referring to the flint and brick home we rented while living in England that had green front and back doors. Luke’s “green door” was the only place he had ever known as home. It was six weeks before we finally found a place for our family and, YES, we painted the front door the same shade of green as our home in England, so Luke would know we were truly home!
Doors . . . there is something fascinating about doors (especially front doors) that I find intriguing. I saw a poster once that pictured fifty or more front doors of homes, some quite plain while others commanding the passerby’s attention–each of them uniquely hinting at what might lie within.
When temptation entered the Garden of Eden there was no physical door to knock on except for the doorway to Eve’s mind and heart. When Eve responded by opening the door to doubting God’s Goodness, the domino-effect of sin changed everything. Gone were times of enjoying such intimacy as a walk in the garden with our Creator. From that point, sin clouded our perceptions of God and of all He created for us to enjoy. Perhaps saddest of all, we lost sight of our unique status as His image bearers. Yes, when doubt darkened the perceptions of the human heart toward God, the unique relationship enjoyed before man’s fall into sin was lost.
To be clear, there is a place for doubt/caution in this sin-bent world. The Bible affirms this danger as it encourages us to look to God as the Shepherd of our hearts. James 1:5 offers direction and encouragement to believers,
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
To know that God wants us to seek Him in trouble is amazing. Yet, for many years I struggled with the warning that immediately follows James’s encouragement:
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,
because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
“You must believe and not doubt?” The question I wrestled with was,
How is it possible to guard against doubting God’s character,
when doubt can so easily slide in through the doorway of our minds?
I gained insight into my question recently while reading Matthew 9. The passage describes a paralyzed man being brought to Jesus by some of his friends. Also in attendance was a crowd of people that included some religious scribes. Jesus spoke kindly to the man as He said, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew relates that when the religious scribes heard this, they condemned Jesus and thought what He said was blasphemous. Matthew then wrote,
‘”Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said,
“Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?”‘
Jesus confronted them not so much for doubting but for condemning Him as they entertained evil in their hearts.
How does Jesus’s rebuke help to sort out the difference between doubt/caution that is necessary to help us navigate through life vs doubt that condemns? As was said earlier, doubt serves a purpose when it comes to living in this world.
Doubt defined: to fear, suspect, to lack confidence in : distrust*
However, when doubt darkens the door of our hearts and negatively influences our perception of God’s character–doubt becomes insidious:
Definition of Insidious: Awaiting a chance to entrap : treacherous
Harmful but enticing : seductive
Having a gradual and cumulative effect : subtle
Of a disease : developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent.*
SIN is the disease that encourages us to question God’s character and to entertain doubts about God’s will and purpose for our lives.
So is there a way to avoid this problem? I believe there is:
- Recognize that deep within every human heart the danger lurks of not only forgetting God, but also of doubting His character.
- Prayerfully ask God to help you recognize where you are most vulnerable when it comes to doubting His character.
- When you find yourself entertaining doubt (note: I did not say if)– go immediately to God in confession as you give thanks for His Sovereign Goodness.
- Seek His help in closing the doorway to doubt as you lean on Him as the Shepherd of your heart.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
All to His Glory!
*Taken form: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary