Is Doubting a Sin?
by Debbie Holloway
And [Jesus] said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? (Luke 24:38)
There’s no doubt about it: faith is a gift. To be more specific, faith is a gift… and not all of us are born with this gift. Many of us have been through trials and struggles that make blind faith and unwavering belief difficult, almost impossible. Have you ever been lied to by a trusted friend? Let down by a parent? Abused by someone who was meant to care for you? Chances are, the answer is yes. Chances are, doubting God is sometimes (or often) something with which you struggle.
Many of us grow up hearing the refrain from James, “the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). Many of us are told over and over again that there is no room for doubt or skepticism in the Kingdom of God. But is that truly the message portrayed in Scripture? Should we really feel the sting of shame over asking questions and expressing hesitation?
Jesus’ response to doubt was often, why? He proposed neither a condemnation nor an accolade, but a dialogue. Jesus cared about the hearts, motives, and fears of those who questioned him, who struggled with unbelief. Practically everyone to whom Jesus ministered expressed genuine doubt or asked provoking questions. But Jesus healed them anyway. Jesus answered their questions (John 3:1). Jesus told them things about themselves, causing them to look at life in a new way (John 4:7). When extraordinary faith was shown (Luke 7:1) Jesus was astounded and overjoyed. But he certainly did not condemn all others of lesser faith. He knew that it takes time for people to overcome cultures of fear and questions.
God has big plans for us, plans to bless us richly through belief and faith. This is evidenced by what Jesus told Thomas:
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
Christ doesn’t deny Thomas’ belief or turn him out on the street in penalty for his doubt. Rather, he stresses again the blessings that will be available to all men through the power of faith and belief. God has such rich things in store for us – but we cannot see them all yet. Jesus wanted to drill that into his followers since he knew he would not be with them physically for much longer.
Take heart and remember, doubting can be a step toward faith – it is not the opposite of faith. And remember also,
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting” (Jude 1:21).
Intersecting Faith and Life: Are you struggling with doubts? Is a fellow brother or sister dealing with hard questions? Remember, God calls for mercy for the doubters, not judgment.