Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 104; 149, Ezra 9:1-15, Revelation 17:1-14, Matthew 14:22-36
Employers tend to base their decisions about promotions around two criteria: qualifications and seniority. How they balance these criteria depends largely on what kind of business environment they have. In a unionized factory, for instance, seniority plays a larger role than it would in a tech start-up where youth may provide more advantage. Just because someone has been around the longest doesn’t mean they’re the best at their job or the most qualified to lead, manage, or train others and neither does being the best at hottest new skill set. In both cases, and most others, failing to balance these criteria properly poses a danger of setting someone up to fail.
When the boatful of disciples were startled to see Jesus walking toward them across the lake, Peter cried, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” As Peter crossed the water the wind picked up and he panicked and began to sink. Of course Jesus didn’t let him drown, but pulled him from the water and said “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After the boat landed at Gennesaret, word spread quickly among the people. They brought many sick people to Jesus and sought “to touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.”
Peter, who had been with Jesus since the beginning, thought he had the faith to follow Jesus anywhere and folded in the crunch, but among the people of Gennesaret who had little experience but lots of faith many were healed . It’s probably no accident these stories appear back-to-back in Matthew’s Gospel. In earlier chapters, the author stresses that what Jesus is able to accomplish through us depends a great deal on the degree of faith we exhibit.
The less susceptible we are to worldly distractions, and the more we rely on Christ than ourselves, the more confidently we can stride across that lake of doubt. Some of that comes from experience, and some from the childlike faith which is too fervent to be discouraged. It is a balance we must learn to recognize within ourselves. Jesus doesn’t set us up to fail, so let’s not do it to ourselves by second guessing him or imposing our own will. Whether we’re Peter or a hopeful stranger, let us be humble enough to trust Christ will do what he says he will. It is through humility he promotes the first to be last.
Comfort: Christ is invested in your spiritual success.
Challenge: Try to be honest objective when understanding your own strengths and weaknesses.
Prayer: Lord I believe. Help my unbelief. Amen.
Discussion: How does doubt hold you back?
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