” Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
Faith. Its always been a bit of a mystery for me. We know about the “hall of faith” in the bible, we know faith is something we’re supposed to have, and we know there are some pretty amazing verses in the bible about what faith can do (anyone need some mountains moved?). But I sometimes feel a little confused about what exactly is faith?
Welcome to weekly virtues, a place to live your days with a focus on becoming more like Christ by intentionally filtering your thoughts, actions, and motives through the lens of biblical virtues.
So today we’re going to talk about faith. Or at least an aspect of it. Because the truth is, I don’t understand everything that has to do with faith. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me. Or I think I have a grasp, but then it doesn’t shape the way I live. But I’m trying to learn. And I want to share what I learn with the hope that you will be encouraged. Because we can pray just like the disciples did, “Lord increase our faith!”
First, let’s get a definition. From 4th-12th grade, I was homeschooled. My mom and I would read together some challenging books by Sir Walter Scott, filled with the most random vocabulary words ever. (This was pre-interwebs, so we had to use a physical dictionary to look up words, like you did back then.) We found a 1940 copy of “Webster’s Universal Unabridged Dictionary” and it was indeed as unabridged as you can get. This thing was HUGE. It is still the source of all literary knowledge to me, so here is the definition of faith from this dictionary…
- “The assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting on his authority and veracity, without other evidence, or on probable evidence of any kind.
- “The assent of the mind to what is given forth as a revelation of man’s relation to God and the infinite;
- (and my personal favorite) “The assent of the mind to the truth of divine revelation, on the authority of God’s testimony, accompanied by a cordial assent of the will or approbation of the heart; an entire confidence or trust in God’s character and declarations, and in the character and doctrines of Christ, with an unreserved surrender of the will to his guidance, and dependence on his merits for salvation.”
Dear Daniel Webster, I love you.
Notice in these definitions that there are two different kinds of faith, there is saving faith in Jesus to rescue us from our sins, (that would be the dependence on his merits for salvation section) and there is “entire confidence or trust in God’s character and declarations” (tying in to the “assent of the mind to the truth of divine revelation on the authority of God’s testimony“). Ooooo, the authority of God’s testimony, this is where it gets good.
Having faith boils down to having a clear understanding of who God is, and who I am. Our “assent of mind” is based on what we believe about what God says. Whether we deem His authority is to be trusted. On the other side, much of our lack of faith comes from us not really believing God based on what He says.
This is the ultimate problem that I keep coming back to…I don’t really believe God is who He says he is and that He’ll do what He says He’ll do.
Part of this is because we live in such a physical world. I want things I can hold, touch, see, and hear. It is easier to believe in what I can see than “things above.” But that’s exactly what the bible says faith is.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
So as long as we live on this physical planet faith is always going to be something we cannot see and may not perfectly understand. And I’ll be honest, this kind of bothers me. I mean, it uses the words substance and evidence. Aren’t those both things you can touch and see and sense?!? But I think this is where God as the good Father, training His children comes in…
Because if we can see it, it’s easy. And if we can already see it, we don’t need to trust His character and lean into to intimacy with Him. We don’t really have to have faith that we’ll have enough to make ends meet if the paycheck is already in the bank. We don’t need faith for healing when the reports already came in all clear. We don’t need faith if the prodigal is already in the fold. These things are already seen. We don’t need faith for the things that are already seen. It is the unseen, not-yet-delivered circumstances that are training us in faith. Training us in our trust of God and in His goodness.
“For without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6
Without faith, it is impossible to please God because we’re saying “I don’t trust you God. I don’t believe what you say about Yourself, Your testimony is not to be trusted.”
Not very church-y thoughts. Thoughts I’m sure that we would never mention aloud in bible study or in front of our kids or to our friends. But maybe we think them in our hearts. And what is in our hearts comes out in our lives.
Because that’s what real virtues are. They are treasured in the inmost places of our hearts, instructing us in the ways of God, even when no one is listening. They influence the way we act in our most secret place.
So how do we increase our faith? How can we make this a virtue that we have tucked away in our souls?
We pray. Just like the disciples, Jesus’ own followers that saw Him on this earth…. they had to ask out loud, “Lord increase our faith!” This is a prayer that God delights to answer.
We decide. We have to decide that we’re going to believe what God says and who He says He is. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Remember, faith is believing when we can’t see. It will not always be clear, it will not always be easy, it will not always feel good. But it will always be right. God doesn’t always ask us to do easy stuff, because then we feel wouldn’t need Him. And He wants us to realize we need Him. Because only when we realize we can’t do it on our own will we submit to His ways and make Him our delight.
We act. If we are not acting on our faith, it is kind of useless going through all the other steps. The point of these virtues is to affect the way we do life and make us more like Christ!
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Confidence and assurance. Trust in God. This is faith in us. Choose to believe what God says.
Take the time to contemplate and then decide what you really believe about God. Do you believe He is good? It’s okay if while you’re thinking, you realize you really don’t believe God. There is grace for that! He promises to increase our faith if we ask for help!
This is not a one time deal. You may have to “re-choose” faith in God many times, in every situations. Sometimes we get slammed with circumstances. Take the time to make a decision to trust in what God says about Himself and His promises for you.
Be alert to whispers from the enemy that are untruthful about God. God is always good and always for our good. Any thought that says otherwise is a lie and needs to be taken captive to Christ.
- Read through Hebrews 11. Imagine yourself in each of character’s place in bible history. What would be your “usual” response? What would be your response if you trusted exactly what God said?
- Read through Luke 17:1-19. Focus on verse 6.
- Print out the Hebrews 11:1 Faith card. Memorize it. This will be your reminder when you feel doubt, anxiety, anything that gets in the way of your trust in God. Put it where you’ll see it and need it. Faith for God’s provision? Put it in your wallet or budget notebook. Faith for your child’s salvation? Put it next to his/her picture. Put it in your bible, your prayer book, your car, your bathroom. Hide God’s word in your heart. Hide it deep where no circumstance can get to the unshakable faith that you are building in the One that is worthy of your utmost trust.
Much love to all of you!
We walk by faith, not by sight. We are the people who believe in God!
~Elizabeth Toy Botero
As always, feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments!