Sometimes we are just too hard on people. How about Bill Buckner, what is he known for? He let a ground ball go between his legs during an important baseball game leading to his team being embarrassingly eliminated for the season. But the fact is Bill Buckner was a professional baseball player good enough to be starting in the majors with a team at the top of the league. I am sure bill had made fielding errors before but apparently not at such a critical time – a time where a play not made sent the whole team on a roller coaster of emotions of dashed dreams and lost opportunities. Bill Buckner bubble gum cards went from places of honor to bicycle spokes in a flash as one player’s legacy of everything accomplished before and after this two second window because footnotes in his life. I think we were a bit hard on a good player named Bill.
One of the Bible characters that we are way too hard on is Thomas. I would guess “Doubting Thomas” can’t be the nickname he would have chosen for himself. Can you imagine him thinking “why can’t I have an awesome nickname like Peter’s? The Rock – now that’s cool! But no – Thomas the doubter, how embarrassing!” At one instance in time Thomas blurted out what was on his mind. Having seen Jesus hanging on the cross he knew he had died; he saw the soldiers spear him and Joseph take him to his tomb wrapping him in burial clothes laced with spices. What would you have blurted out when the rest of the disciples told you that they had seen Jesus alive? We would probably say what Thomas did, (In my version) “You guys must be nuts! I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His hands and feet!” Thomas’ fate was sealed. All he accomplished for good before or after this two second window have become footnotes in his history.
The thing is Thomas’ other two recorded instances of talking in the Bible are stories we can really learn from. In John 8-11 Jesus has been performing miracles, healing and telling all within ear shot about the way to God. Of course this irritated the religious Jewish leaders into a rage prompting them to pick up stones threatening to kill Jesus. With his followers in tow Jesus left Jerusalem heading across the Jordan letting the tempers cool for awhile. While in the hill country word was sent that Lazarus, Jesus’ good friend, was near death in Bethany – a town right by Jerusalem. As the other disciples made excuses not to go help His friend because of the stoning incident Thomas pipes up “Let us also go that we may die with Him.” That doesn’t sound like a doubter to me!
Thomas had been traveling with Jesus for three years. Thomas believed in Jesus so fully and completely he was willing to follow Him to death. What do you think Thomas’ mood was as he sat lonely and depressed thinking the very foundation of his soul had been ripped out on the cross – when the others come in with this tall tale? He was a bit doubtful as any human might be. But what happened next? When Jesus appeared to the “doubter,” Thomas without hesitation exclaimed with heartfelt passion “my Lord and my God!” No doubting there, just a simple man who knew with whom he placed his life. I think we are a bit hard on a good man named Thomas.
As Christians we all have those ups and downs of faith. How would you like for the rest of the world to peg their whole perception of you on your lowest point of faith, your biggest failure or most glaring lapse in judgement? We would scream “not fair!” We must be people that extend grace and tolerance to others while extending forgiveness and practicing forbearance. In Ephesians 4:29 it says “Do not let wholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those that listen.” Who have we been too hard on? Who have we pushed down and unwittingly held there because of a two-second or even long-term blunder? Let’s be builders up! I hope all who observe us as Christians can declare “they never kept a good man down!”
This weekly devotion is written by John Key