1 Thessalonians 3:12 “. . . and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you . . .”
The flowers and herbs had been sitting on our porch for over a month. I had been bitten by the gardening bug and bought them with the full intention of planting them in pots to liven up the side porch. But I had put the project on the back burner as more pressing tasks became necessary. Finally, I found a brief window of time to transplant them and was all set with hand shovel, watering can, fertilizer, and extra potting soil.
I filled the largest pot with soil and made holes where I thought each plant would look best. Then gingerly I began to remove the plants from the store containers. It was a little difficult, as my delay had caused the roots to grow out of the hole in the bottom of the plastic and some of the plants were stuck fast. Reaching a particularly difficult one I tugged a little harder, and then tried cutting the plastic from around the imprisoned herb.
All of a sudden, without warning, I heard a popping sound, and out of the container from under the stems popped the head and front legs . . . of a toad! His body hung over the side of the plastic like a jack-in-the-box clown. Screaming, I almost dropped the plant, but managed to hang on until my heart stopped beating wildly. This unpleasant surprise had taken me completely off guard!
Isn’t it interesting how you can be involved in the normal affairs of life when, suddenly, a doubt about God or even a good friend can pop into your mind? Have you ever wondered where those thoughts come from?
Recently, I have been struck with how many times God’s servants have had to defend themselves to other believers against false accusations.
The Apostle Paul spent chapters in some of his letters explaining and reasoning with his spiritual children against false rumors that were being spread about him. In Paul’s absence the enemy planted seeds of doubt in the believers’ minds as to his motives for sharing the gospel message, his accuracy in presenting the message, his methods in sharing the message, and his desire to return to them and help them in difficult times. Though at first the accusations may have seemed silly, over time it would be natural for questions to pop into the heads of the those who were being bombarded with these allegations.
Similarly, John, one of Jesus’ disciples, wrote to a beloved friend, Gaius, on the same matter. He said, “I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words . . .”
This should not be surprising to any of us. From early on in creation Satan used this tactic even against God Himself. When Eve was standing by the forbidden fruit, the serpent asked pointed questions to cause doubts about God’s wisdom and goodness to pop into her mind. As she mulled over these accusations, she came to erroneous conclusions that God was holding out on her. She decided to eat of the forbidden fruit, convincing Adam to join her, and the whole world has suffered ever since.
The Bible talks about unity amongst believers over and over again. This is crucial to our well being and to the spread of the gospel. Yet this is the very thing we often struggle with. Out of the soil of even the deepest of relationships can pop ugly doubts about motives, commitment, beliefs, intentions, or more. Nothing is sacred! The enemy will stop at nothing to separate those who would stand together fighting against him.
The best defense against this tactic is to be aware. Do not be surprised when an ugly doubt about a fellow believer, or even God Himself, pops into your head. Instead of allowing these accusations to stay and fester, seek the truth. Pray that the Lord will cause you to increase and abound in love for one another. Be patient and forgiving, always giving the benefit of the doubt. Because very likely your doubtful thoughts are just unpleasant toads sent by the enemy to surprise you and ruin a relationship that is meant to glorify God.