And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58, ESV).
Poor Nazareth. The people there took offense at their hometown prophet, Jesus, and as a result, Jesus couldn’t do much in that town “because of their unbelief.” Their lack of faith robbed them of Jesus’ “many mighty works.”
Wouldn’t that be an awful thing to have said about your home, about your family, about you? “Jesus couldn’t do much in or through you because you didn’t believe Him.” Do you ever wonder, Lord, why don’t You do more in our church? Could it be because of unbelief? Why do You cause good things to happen in my friend’s life but not mine? Could it be because your friend believes God more? You may be a candidate for James’s blunt wisdom: “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly” (James 4:2b–3a).
“Put some action behind what you believe, and then watch God work.”
Faith is the key. God’s promises are activated by faith. Faith is not passive—it’s active. Don’t say, “I’ll just wait over here. Maybe God will work; maybe He won’t.” What are you doing about it? Are you like the sick patient who needs to get better but refuses to go to the doctor? That’s foolish. You have to do what you can. Or like the single who longs for a spouse but never goes to the singles’ events at church? You can’t just sit in your basement and pray for someone to show up. Not a great plan. Do your part. Or like the people who are filled with worry and want to have hope but never read the Bible? They might carry it, respect it, and defend it, but they’re not living in it. They’re not opening it like the Word of life and drinking from it like someone thirsty in a desert.
The next time you gather with other believers to cry out to God for rain, count how many people bring umbrellas for the trip home. Bringing an umbrella doesn’t force God to send rain, but it does indicate how seriously you are expecting God to act!
Faith has to be active to be real. Remember Naaman, the leprous general from 2 Kings 5? God told him to go dip in the filthy Jordan River seven times. He was insulted. He hadn’t expected that healing would involve potentially humiliating circumstances. He would have paid richly for treatment, but he wasn’t eager to follow these instructions. At first he angrily refused, but eventually, once he humbled himself and followed God’s plan, he was healed. In faith, he did his part—and God did the rest.
Remember the widow in debt from 2 Kings 4? She collected containers from her neighbors to hold all the oil God gave her to pay back her creditors. In faith, she did what she could—and God did the rest.
A warrior heading into battle has to pick up his weapon. We must do what we can, what we’re commanded to do as an expression of faith. Put some action behind what you believe, and then watch God work. Only when we have done all we know to do can we wait by faith for God to do what only He can do.
God, how sobering to think that my unbelief could limit Your work in my life. Please forgive me and grow my faith. I want to believe in You boldly. I want to start praying with more faith. I’m packing my umbrella, God, expecting You can and will act. After I do my little part, I will trust You to do what only You can do. I pray in the name of Jesus, who does many mighty works, amen.