How often did Jesus say: You of little faith (Matt 14:31, 17:20); where is your faith (Luke 8:25); if you had faith (Matt 21:21)…etc. How did Jesus determine what level of faith people had, how did he know if they had faith?
I understand His frustration with people of little faith, Heb 11:6 warns clearly:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
I think Jesus made an assessment of people’s faith, by the faith they showed him.
The evidence of our faith is shown in two ways:
1. Faith comes out of our mouth: What you really believe in your heart (Luke 6:45) will come from your mouth eventually. Mark 11:22-23 (AMP) describes the following principle:
“And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!” and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him.”
What Jesus is saying is that when our heart agrees with what proceeds from our mouths, power to move mountains is released. But more often, what comes out of our mouths reflects a lack of faith, it reflects a lack of knowledge of the Word of God, the promises He makes. The secrets of what we really believe come out in what we say.
True faith, speaks in agreement with what we believe.
Jesus would often seek to find faith and then Jesus responded to expressions of faith. Take Bartimaeus who believed that Jesus could do the impossible and heal his sight. When Jesus asked him what he wanted, he didn’t ask for money or comfort, he asked for exactly what he wanted, to see. (Mark 10:46-52) He asked for what he believed.
Or the Greek women in Matt 15:21-28 who believed in God’s good nature and continued to ask for her daughter’s healing, even when Jesus initially turned away and insulted her to reveal her faith. She still expressed faith. In both instances, Jesus responded to clear expressions of faith coming out of their mouths. Jesus responded to faith.
What comes out of your mouth? You may say you believe, but in your heart of hearts you don’t believe and it comes out of your mouth eventually. Take the simple attitude: I have asked God in prayer and then I say: “We will see what God will do.” We are already by our words expressing doubt that our prayers will be answered. The very ‘wait-and-see’ attitude is not an attitude of faith. God waits for an expression of our faith, by what comes out of our mouths.
2. Faith is shown in your actions. We see your faith, based on your actions motivated by what you believe. James 2:18 MSG
“You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.”
Abraham proved his faith by His actions. Heb 11:17-19 NIV
“ By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”
Abraham despite what He saw, still believed in the power of the God he was serving and made preparations immediately to sacrifice Isaac. He believed in a God, who could raise the dead, a God who fulfills His promises and so even though his logic and his observation of circumstances told him otherwise, he chose to take action even though He could not see how.
We who live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7) are the children of Abraham by our faith (Gal 3:7). Faith is shown by how we live, what we do, not by our ‘chatter’.
Jesus also responded to action taken in faith. The woman (Mark 5:24-34) who had been bleeding for 12 years, believed that if she “could only touch the hem of his garment” she would be healed. This very faith-action of touching, healed her immediately and Jesus confirms that it was her faith in action that healed her. In Luke 5:17-26, four men lowered their friend through the roof because they believed that Jesus could heal him. It was not the man on the bed’s faith, it was the faith-action of his friends that made Jesus respond and heal the man.
God responds to our faith.
Unless we are constantly spending time in the Word to stir up our faith, unbelief settles in our hearts and we wonder why there seems to be no response to our prayers.
We show our faith by what we say and what we do.
- Looking at the stories of Jesus, have you ever considered that God looks for evidence of faith in our lives?
- Considering your walk and talk over the last year, would you say that your words and actions have shown evidence of faith in your day to day life? Identify situations where your faith would have been visible.
- How much of your talk, even in day to day conversation, represents an expression of faith as believed in your heart? What statements about what you believe do you make most often?
- Would you describe yourself as a person who once you have believed in your heart, takes active steps inline with your faith? Steps of faith not based on a momentary inspiration, but sequential steps borne out of a conviction of your heart?
- Who is a person you know in your life, that would most demonstrate these two characteristics in their expression of their faith?
Lord, grow my faith. I know already that faith is not evident in my life and if the criteria is what I say and what I do, then my faith needs work. Help me to grow in my understanding of your Word, so that truth bubbles out of my mouth and reflects what my heart believes. Help me to make sure that my life actions, reflect my beliefs. I declare that I am a person that demonstrates faith in what I say and what I do and that I see the effect of this faith in my life.
It was easier to not believe. Not to build expectations, hopes and desires and just survive circumstances. The Lord could help me survive.
The only problem is that I don’t want a vanilla life.
What did I mean? Vanilla ice-cream is predictable. When you take vanilla, you know exactly what you are going to get. Vanilla is safe, predictable and probably does not involve any disappointment. Choosing a faith life, meant that I had to have expectations beyond what I could see; take a chance on a new flavor of life that I may not like as much, like rum and raisin. Choosing a faith life meant risks, having to acquire new skills, new knowledge, new attitudes. It meant being willing to go on an adventure of discovery with God. I wanted the faith life.
Upon honest reflection I had to admit though that I had chosen a vanilla life. That when it came to the levels of my faith, I showed evidence of little. (Zero out of ten!). By now I realised that I needed to work on the levels of my faith. I remembered myself having faith once, what happened? Surely I had not become so jaded that I did not believe anymore? The desire to see change in my life still persisted and I was beginning to understand that the only way was to renew my walk with the Lord. To start building up my faith again, but… did I have any faith?