One of the things I have been learning a lot about is faith. It's a hard word to learn because you can only learn as much as you allow yourself to actually have. If you are living by faith, you know a lot about what faith is and what it requires. If you are not living by faith, you have a good textbook answer that will be followed up with a lot of tough life situations that will teach you the hard way. Life has been teaching me many things about this word. It's teaching me that it has been awhile since I have had to truly have faith. The further you step away from the details of my life the more it appears that I am living by faith. However, the closer you zero in to me and my day-to-day life you would find that it's been awhile. I'm also learning that we often look at faith as something we have and do in a singular moment. We notice it when we have to make a big decision and are facing transition. We realize it when we see controversy and have to make a stand. However, we all know that once we make a big decision the journey is not over. We continue in a faith journey long after the "big moments" of faith. Faith is not about a singular moment. It's consistently making decisions of obedience.
Hebrews is an incredible book when it comes to studying faith. I was reading chapters 11, 12, and 13 recently and several things stood out as powerful to me as I am learning about faith from life.
First, the definition of faith "is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1)." We do not have "faith" in order to get results. We have faith that God will do what He says He will do. Faith is being sure of that. Faith is being obedient because of that.
Hebrews 11 is often described as the "Faith Hall of Fame." The hall of fame is not an exhaustive list of those who have lived by faith. In fact, I believe there were certainly others in Scripture (and even in our lives) that have lived by much faith. Hebrews 11 is a beautiful display of the fruit of faith! The stories and people we read about were chosen with divine intention. We need to know that when we as believers live a life of faith we reap many things.
Verse 4 - "and by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead."
Verse 6 - "and without faith it is impossible to please God."
Verse 7 - "became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith."
When we live a life of faith we reap the fruit of faith.
Hebrews also shows us the reality that faith is a long term commitment. Hebrews 11:39 says, "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised." These people are in the "Faith Hall of Fame" because they were sure of what they hoped for and certain of what they did not see.
So what do we do with this?
We are faithful in our lives. It is not that we live a life absent of faith. The problem is where we choose to put our faith. The scary thing is that we are far too often way more faithful to ourselves than we are to our God. I do not believe we always do this intentionally. In fact, I feel like I often do so with the intention that my agenda is pleasing to the Lord. The reality is that Hebrews 11:6 is truth. We cannot please the Lord without faith. Our agendas can stop us from doing the very thing we have set out to do!
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and PERFECTER OF OUR FAITH." Perfecter of our faith! That's how we can become perfect in our faith. It's not possible for us to do this on our own. It's Christ in our lives every day working to make us more like Himself. We go through hardship and welcome discipline because these are the things that all us to share in holiness (12:10) and that produce "a harvest of righteousness and peace (12:11)."
Faith in God is what we are called to by Scripture. Through faith God creates kingdom. These are the things that ultimately matter. These are the things that will stand eternally. "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28).'"
I have no way of knowing where this post finds you. I do know that it is a truth that challenges me especially during this holiday season. My prayer is that we will daily learn to be faithful and that as a result we will "be thankful and worship God acceptably!"