We tend to put faith in the domain of the unknown and unseen. It has a mysterious, nebulous component. After all, how do you define faith? You can’t see or feel it. Isn’t faith something you hope for that hasn’t even happened? Yes…and no.
When we view faith as something “out there” and distant, we are free to live life however we want. If it can’t be measured or quantified, I say I have faith–or think I have faith–without obligation. In other words, I can believe (in my head). I can say I’m a Christian. I can say or think I have faith. And I can move on with my life.
I would argue that faith is real, it’s a concrete doing, not just an empty set of words. For instance, when you visited your Facebook page, sent a text or made plans for this afternoon, what motivated you? Why did you do what you did?
One of the most common reasons for doing or not doing something is because we “feel like it.” We want to do something (or we don’t) and the wanting motivates our decision. My grandmother used to talk about being “in the mood.” If she was in the mood, it got done. If she wasn’t, it had to wait. Fortunately, she was always in the mood for MacDonald’s ice cream.
Here it is: Faith is doing what God says whether I feel like it or not. It’s taking God at His Word and acting on it. Period. That’s real. It’s concrete. It’s not wishy-washy. It’s not nebulous or mysterious. It’s actually straight-forward and obvious. Here are a couple of simple, but hard, ways to apply faith:
– God says marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman for life (Genesis 1-3, Ephesians 5). Faith not only assents it’s true, faith does it. Faith says, “No matter how I feel about this person, I am committed to this relationship. God designed marriage and He wants me to work this out.” Staying married and working through difficulties requires dependence on Him. seeking help, perseverance, forgiveness, and sacrifice. It’s real, walking, talking faith that lies awake at night, prays, gives, serves, and loves. Faith real, concrete acts that reflect Jesus–that believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection–in everyday life through our words, actions and choices.
– God says if we abide in Him, He will abide in us (John 15). Faith spends measureable time reading the Bible, studying, listening to, meditating on and memorizing God’s Word because that’s where we find Him. We must know Christ and His ways to abide in Him. Faith is evident in prayer (abiding). Faith is evident as I wait on God to provide and meet my needs.
– God says He will keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him because He trusts Him (Isaiah 26:3). Faith refuses to give in to worry or despair. Faith chooses, instead, to think on the character and works of God: His faithfulness, lovingkindness and goodness expressed in Scripture and past experience. Godly faith is demonstrated by peace and steadfastness.
The opposite of faith is my way-seeking relief, comfort, pleasure–in opposition to the revealed will of God in His Word. It happens as we justify, rationalize and excuse our behavior with circumstance instead of turning to God and holding fast. When I simply don’t believe God’s Word is true or will “work,” when I think I have a better idea, or just don’t feel like doing it His way, my unbelief and disobedience result in real consequences. God’s way or my way? It’s that simple.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 NASB)
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26)
Written by Sydney Millage