June 4, 2017

Flex Your Faith (Finding Faith part 3)

When I was young and foolish (as opposed to now being older and... hopefully less foolish), I had a friend who convinced me to start lifting weights with him at a local gym. Now my friend was a pretty fit young man, and I was, shall we say… a couch potato. I went with him exactly one time – it was a grueling workout for me, and I remember being barely able to lift my arms for three days afterwards. Not surprisingly, I declined any further invitations to return to the gym.

© Elena Zidkova | Dreamstime Stock Photos
I had overdone it. I attempted to do everything my stronger friend could do, and not only did I fail miserably, I found myself in a lot of pain afterwards. The same thing can happen to us in our life of faith.

Let’s revisit one of the definitions of faith from earlier in this series:
4) the theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.

It is a necessary assumption that a Christian believes in the existence of God. What is less certain is whether or not we feel safe and secure when we encounter hardships – times when we really have to trust God to come through for us. It’s this trusting acceptance of God’s will that many of us, even mature and seasoned Christians, find so elusive. How can we learn to trust God more fully?

Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.
~ Deuteronomy 7:9 (NLT)

Perhaps the greatest test (and proof) of faith is obedience. As I have said before, we do what we believe. Every time we step up and obey God’s will in our lives, we are practicing and strengthening our faith. "Flexing our spiritual muscle," one might say. Each act of obedience builds our fellowship with God, and we find a greater sense of security beneath the shadow of His wings with each step of faith.

Today, you may be one of many Christians who believe in God but are still troubled greatly by the worries of life. You may be facing problems which seem impossible to handle. You may even have some unresolved sin in your life which you desperately want to be rid of, yet you are unable to break the chains which bind you.

With the great problems you may be facing, it is all too easy to feel overwhelmed. There is a strong temptation to just throw in the towel and give up. It is very sad to realize that many do indeed fall away at this point, and many times our churches add to the pressure by criticizing and ridiculing those who have not yet conquered an apparent sin which plagues them. We would all do well to note that sanctification (the purifying process which we all undergo after salvation) is not instantaneous. It takes time, patience, and practice. Common sense and simple logic should tell us that large problems take longer to fix, but because they are large (and often embarrassingly obvious), we tend to expend great amounts of energy toward solving the big problems. And many have burned out in the process.

Why is that? Doesn’t God step in to help? Doesn’t a failure in this way reveal that our faith was fake? That perhaps our declaration of faith was a sham?

Not so! An immature Christian (and let’s be real, one can remain immature after becoming a Christian for a long, long time) has not yet learned how to lean on God. Just as one doesn’t start weightlifting by attempting to bench-press 500 pounds, it is often counterproductive to try to tackle our biggest problems right off the bat.

It is often better to fight the small battles first. In doing so, we strengthen our spiritual muscle and learn how our relationship with God works. We learn how to identify His presence and activity in our lives, and we become more aware of His prompting and His direction. With each small victory, our faith grows stronger, and we are able to face the tougher problems with more confidence and assurance of God’s help. Each small step of obedience brings us closer to ultimate victory.

And we are also less likely to suffer from the spiritual equivalent of a pulled muscle afterward.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Support Living In The Bible - Your donations help spread God's word to the ends of the Earth!