“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulaton for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
Faith is listed as a fruit of the Spirit, but also as a gift of the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:9) Faith is essential to having a relationship with God, for salvation, and for walking with God. Without faith our beliefs are in vain. A pastor once told it to me this way. He showed me a chair and asked if I believed that the chair would hold me. I said, “Yes.” Then he asked me if I had faith that the chair would hold me. I said, “Yes.” Then he told me to sit in the chair and exercise that faith. Just knowing that God is there and that He is good is not faith; it is belief. But even the demons believe, and yet they shudder.(James 2:19) Having a belief is not enough. You must exercise that belief, thus turning it into faith by placing yourself into the hands of God and trusting your life to Him through Jesus. Keith Green had a song called “Step Across the Line.” The line was the boundary between belief and faith.
So if we have to have faith before we can become a Christian, then how is it a gift or a fruit? First of all, God gives some people an extra dose of faith in the midst of difficult circumstances. Those with this type of faith will walk into a lions’ den or fire in the name of Christ. This gift is given at times of great need. This gift may be for a moment or for a life time. But know that if and when you are in need of extra faith, God will give extra grace.
As we exercise the faith that we have, be it small or great, then that faith will begin to grow and thus, is a fruit of the Spirit. It is like a muscle, as we use it, it grows stronger. If we are not using it, it will atrophy! Faith can be as small as a mustard seed, but grow into the biggest tree in the garden. Faith is choosing to believe that God is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do. This is especially true when your life circumstances are hard and you can’t see the hand of God for the moment. Faith says, God is good; He loves me; and He wants the best for me. Even though we might not experience that for a moment, faith says that we will trust anyway because we see through a mirror dimly but God has the eternal forever perspective.
Be careful though! Don’t place your faith in what God will do for you, but rather place your faith in God. This difference has shipwrecked many a person who started off with faith in God, but went astray expecting only good things. When life got tough, they felt abandoned by God when really He was standing by waiting to pick them up as they began to exercise their faith. Think of a child learning to walk. If Mom never lets go of their hands, then they will never walk alone. God is there. He said so. I believe it. I will trust in God.
Hint for the Day: You can teach the concept of faith to an elementary aged child by not putting supper on the table one night. They trust you to feed them because you always have. When they ask where dinner is, you let them know that you didn’t feel like feeding them tonight so they can go to bed hungry. They will begin to protest! Laugh with them and pull out the pizza! Let them know that they had trusted you to provide for them because you always have. We can trust in God because He is trustworthy as well. Even as the child didn’t really believe that you would allow them to go to bed hungry, we don’t really believe that God will let us down. So when we feel like God is not there, or God does not care, He does and will provide in the right time.