READ: Psalm 78, Hosea 7, Luke 6, 1 Corinthians 13
“Again and again they tempted God and limited the Holy one of Israel.”
It seems unthinkable that we can handcuff God. How can the Omniscient be limited? One of the mysteries of God is that He sometimes limits Himself to the expectations and requests of man. Matthew 13:58 says that Jesus “did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” It is not that God cannot act when man dis-believes; it is that He chooses not to.
Unbelief Is Sin. A Holy God cannot and will not partner with sin. Unbelief is considered in the scriptures as flagrant rebellion, as an insult. Psalm 78 tells us that “the Lord was furious because they did not believe” and “they sinned, and did not believe” (vv. 21-22, 32). The context refers to God’s people, not pagans. This is about men and women in a covenant relationship with God. When God’s people–including God’s missionaries–do not believe Him, God gets furious. God considers unbelief in His representatives as flagrant sin. The unbelief of God’s representatives is more damaging than unbelief in the unregenerate. We know better. When we choose not to believe (and belief is a choice), we are silly doves without sense (Hosea 7:11). Think of the horror of God’s restrained hand across the nations because missionaries rebel by refusing to truly, deeply believe that God will save scores of the most resistant. We cannot harbor the sin of unbelief and expect God to act in power. We limit God when we un-believe, and tragically our unbelief is effectual hate towards the lost. For when we don’t believe, God does not act and the nations are not reached. Neither the saved nor the lost can afford unbelief.
Belief Is Love. “Love Believes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). When we love someone, we have no trouble accepting their word. Love takes the best possible meaning from every conversation. Love grants benefit of the doubt. Love refuses to believe what they know is contrary to the nature of their loved one. We love Jesus by believing Him. We know His character; we know He is faithful; and we know we can trust Him even when He promises the most outlandish things or asks for the most impossible sacrifices. To love Jesus is to believe everything that He has said. Where Jesus is loved, He acts. In the same way that Jesus refuses to act where He is unloved (and to not believe is to sin and to sin is to un-love Jesus), He delights to act where He is loved and trusted. In mission let us delight the heart of Jesus by loving Him enough to believe He will do extraordinary things. Our reward is that He will! Our belief in Jesus prompts Him to act among the nations. We can best love the inconveniently lost by believing Jesus, for they will be the eternal benefactors of our belief.