Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Jesus talked a lot about faith. In fact, He frequently made comments like, “Your faith has made you well” when He healed someone, or “You of little faith…” when His disciples came to Him in fear or failure.
When we talk about faith, we often use the word “faith” to refer to “my religious beliefs.” Sometimes we talk about our “faith” as our “trust in God.” But I wonder if you have ever thought about your faith as the foundation of your actions. Let me share some thoughts with you…
First of all, every believer receives faith from God. Romans 12:3 states,
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)
Some have focused on the word “measure” in this verse to excuse themselves saying, “Well, God gave him great faith, but He has only given me a little faith…” On the contrary, in the context of this verse, Paul is emphasizing that each person is responsible for his actions based on faith.
Second, when Jesus used the phrase “little faith,” He was not talking about the “size” of the disciples’ faith, but their lack of acting on faith. In fact, in Matthew 17:19-20 when the disciples questioned Jesus about their inability to cast out a certain demon, we read:
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” (Matthew 17:19-20)
Jesus said that with faith the “size” of a tiny mustard seed they could move a mountain. So, was Jesus really talking about the “size” of the disciple’s faith when He used the term “little faith?” No, I believe He was saying that they were not acting from faith. In the same way, when He said to many of those He healed, “Your faith has made you well,” He was referring to the fact that they had acted based on their faith in His ability to heal them.
This is also, then, what James meant when he wrote, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17) What is dead faith? It is faith that is not reflected in action. If your faith does not determine what you do in your life, it is dead faith. If your faith only affects “religious things” in your life, it is little faith.
Here is an example. The Scripture tells me, “…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things (material needs) will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33) If I am to act in faith according to this verse, I will determine to make the time and effort to seek His kingdom and His righteousness as a priority in my life, and I will trust God to provide for my needs. In his book, Manna, while writing about trusting in God to provide for our daily needs, Kevin Stirrat says, “…we must choose the level of our obedience before we enter dangerous territory.” In other words, we must determine ahead of time our course of action based on faith, rather than waiting and making a last minute choice. By an act of our will, we must decide we will do what is right and pleasing to God, and then act in accordance with our faith, by the grace of God, because last minute choices are usually determined by our circumstances and emotions.
Stirrat goes on to say, “there is no Plan B,” referring to the fact we often provide ourselves with a “back up plan” in case things don’t turn out as we had hoped. In other words, we plan what we will do just in case God doesn’t come through. Where is the faith in that?
I am wondering what area there might be in your life where God is asking you to step out in faith; to determine your course of action based on faith, a faith founded solidly in God’s character and in His Word; to toss aside your personal back-up plans and to trust Him.
It is no coincidence that the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews chapter eleven is followed by these words,
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Will you join the faithful?
Stirratt, Kevin. Manna, The Call to Daily Dependance on God. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2009.