Growing Strong In Faith
Growing Strong In Faith
In this post, I want to encourage Christians to be willing to take a close look at what they believe about situations that are confronting them.
There are two very fundamental questions that every Christian needs to ask in times of difficulty. Firstly, "What do I absolutely believe about this situation?'" and secondly, "How would I act, if what I believe was absolutely true?"
We need to ask these questions because they are the foundational questions of our faith walk. What we believe and how we should act on what we believe is the essence of our faith walk.
'What is it that I believe about my situation?"
In Luke 5:12-13, we read the account of a man healed of leprosy:
'While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately, the leprosy left him.'
The leper must have come to the conclusion that Jesus was able to heal leprosy. Given all the miracles and healing that characterised Jesus ministry, this was a no-brainer. The leper had faith that Jesus could heal him.
However, faith for healing is not one dimensional. Being convinced that God was ABLE to heal him, was not enough. The leper also needed to know that Jesus was WILLING to heal him.
It is a good thing to ask questions about our faith.
'Without becoming weak in faith he (Abraham) contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.' (Romans 4:19-21, NASB)
Abraham considered that God was able to perform what He had promised. Did you notice that Abraham considered. Considering is a deliberate process of thinking in which a person weighs up the pros and cons, the strengths and weakness, the arguments for and against and comes to a conclusion. There was a process that Abraham went through in coming to a position of strong faith. The Bible says he grew in strong faith. In other words, at the start of the process, Abraham was not fully convinced. However, considering God's ability took him from a position where he didn't have faith strong enough to receive God's promise to a place of faith where he could receive God's promises.
'By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.’ (Hebrews 11:11 NASB)
Sarah also grew strong in faith. For Sarah, the issue under consideration was God's faithfulness- not His ability. Just like Abraham, Sarah considered what she believed and came to a position of faith where she received power to conceive.
When believing for something there are at least three areas in which Christians must develop their faith. These three areas are like a three legged stool- two of the three will not hold the stool. The stool will fall over in the area that is lacking.
The first and primary area is, are we in 'right standing' or deserving enough for God's will and His power to be manifest in our lives. It doesn't matter what we believe about God's will and His ability if we suffer from a sense of unworthiness.
Secondly, is God willing?
Thirdly, is God able?
To be strong in faith, we need to ensure that our faith is developed in these three areas, but especially in the first area- our righteousness before God.
Our sense of right standing with God is closely linked with our ability to receive from God. We can't approach God boldly if we are shrinking on the inside from a sense of unrighteousness. Considering the leper's healing, there is an implied link between the leper's poor sense of 'right standing' and his faith concerning Jesus' willingness to heal him.
'And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged...'
Christians who are made right with God have no need to beg and plead. Yet there is often a sense of unworthiness in our prayers. How often do you hear the word 'just' used when people pray. "Lord we're just here, to ask you to just …."- as though we're not in a position to ask boldly for big things, but we may have 'just' enough righteousness and 'just' enough faith to impose on God for some minor things.
Jesus knew that this was an area in which the leper was struggling. Understandably, leprosy was closely associated with sin and lepers were excluded from everyday life. Notice how Jesus reached out and touched the leper.
'Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him..'
By reaching out and touching the leper, Jesus was reversing the work of the Law. Jesus was saying to the leper- 'You are in right standing with me and with God!'
Growing in faith requires us to ask serious questions about what we believe and why we believe. Three essential questions we must have answered are: am I worthy of God's goodness to me, is what I'm believing for, God's will for me, and is God able to perform what he has promised.