18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” (Luke 1:18-20, NRSV)
Zechariah was of the priesthood. He had been selected by divine intervention to offer the sacrifice of incense that day. He was a reputable minister, and yet he doubted the Lord’s message through Gabriel. Selfishly, I am glad to know that a Biblical celebrity like the father of John the Baptist can slip up. I can also see a warning in the fact that when we doubt, we cut ourselves off from God’s best. I’ve had some barren moments and some decrepit thoughts that were not in keeping with the abundant life of the Spirit, and I wonder how much of God’s witness I have muted by my own lack of faith.
One might even admire Zechariah’s humility, for keeping a “who am I?” attitude, but Heaven’s message was that he was prized and chosen to bring about God’s special purpose. To respond in such doubt is not humility; it is pride in disguise. He was placing his own assessment above that of our Heavenly Father. To attempt to outrank God is pure idolatry of self – the very definition of pride. That was why judgement clamped the mouth of Zechariah, and that is what kills our witness today.
Dear Father, forgive me for seeing the obstacles before the opportunities, and the limits before the possibilities. Open my spiritual eyes so that I may see Truth, and favor it over the material distraction. I recognize, Lord, that my lack of faith is not a victimless sin, because my doubt spreads to those who witness it, and it multiplies. Instead, make my life a representation of faith, so that Your glory grows, Your name is praised, and lives are enriched by Your love. Do not let my actions silence or negate my words. Give me the integrity of heart that makes Your love the only light of my life.