I’ve spent a lot of time through the years praying for faithfulness. My faith has been tested, refined and strengthened, confirmed and uplifted in that time. And there are a few key points that I have learned along the way that help me identify faithfulness.
The first is: Faith is trusting God in all things and above all things. The big things as well as the little things that make our daily life what it is. You must first have faith that God created the universe and the world we live on, and then you must have faith that God wants to give you His greatest gifts – even when you are not sure what the gift is. I learned this best when I was first married. You see, my husband and I met on a blind date and knew each other for only six weeks before our wedding. It didn’t occur to me that I may have made a fast decision until we were living in L.A. a few weeks after our wedding – and the only person I knew was him! I was ready to go home to my family and familiar surroundings when I found a porcelain figurine in a Christian bookstore. It is a boy and girl with all of their belongings in a wagon and titled “We walk by faith.” For me it was a symbol that God had ordained our marriage.
The second point is: Faith is a choice. It is a gift we are given by God through the Holy Spirit. It is an exercise of the will to trust and believe in God’s promises. Each day we face choices that test our faith. Do we take that roll of tape home from the office? Should I tell the checkout girl she gave me too much change? Faithfulness is also tested through boring, routine, and humbling tasks. We must be prepared to be nobody, so that others can witness God’s purpose and glory. Sometimes the choice is harder. After the death of my brother, Mark, I came home from the funeral and dealing with the immediate needs of family and I fell into a deep abyss of depression and hate. My only way out was making the choice to trust God and believe in His promises. We are able to choose the eternal over the worldly because God gave us His Son Jesus, who died, was buried and is alive. He kept His promise. But it is our choice. And the choice to accept the gift is action done in obedience.
Third point: Faith is a verb. It is a way of living that can only be lived in action. Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the Biblical record of faith. By faith Abel offered his sacrifice to God. By faith Noah built an ark – he had never even seen rain! By faith the people of Israel walked through the Red Sea. Trusting in God. Believing His promises. Faith works. Faith loves. Faith forgives. Faith perseveres. These examples show some kind of movement in relationship with God. And when you have that relationship with God, faith that is alive becomes an action word. We are each able to grow in the direction God is calling us when we walk in faith and obedience. I have heard God’s call to preach His word to the people he brings me to. How in the world am I going to do this? I am not qualified, but I know that God qualifies those He calls and He has placed his faith in me. How can I fail!?!
Fourth point: Faith is lived out as a reflection of God’s character and grace abiding in us. In 2 Timothy 2:13 Paul writes “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” When life is beating us and we feel separated from God we are reminded of God’s faithfulness to us. God’s faithfulness is infinite, incomparable, unfailing, everlasting and great. God shows us His faithfulness by keeping His covenant with those who follow Him and surrender to His will. God’s faithfulness is shown to us in the forgiveness of our sins. Isn’t it easy to love others and to be faithful when everyone around you is godly and faithful – and nice? But you can reflect God’s character in you by living out your faith and loving the unlovable. (You know – that cranky, bitter, nasty person in your life – and we all got one of them.)
Faith is trusting God. Faith is a choice. Faith is a verb, is action in relationship. Faith is God abiding in us and through us. God has given us many examples and He included the written directions on how to be faithful. He has also given us the grace and the strength to remain faithful. And through these examples, the written directions, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are able to remain faithful and keep the promises we have made as servants of God.
Keep the faith!
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith* our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.” ~ Hebrews 11:1-3