What is Faith?
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1
As I look back over this journey, I am constantly amazed at how much my faith has grown through the trials and tribulations of this life. Recently, however, I have found myself contemplating the question, “What is faith?”
I looked up the definition of faith to see what other sources say. My web search turned up a definition of “belief or trust: belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.”
My faith in God is far stronger than it ever has been before. My deep and sincere trust that He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do is at an unprecedented level in my life. I have a deep inner peace that He is in control and that He has great things planned for my life. Even when I can’t see Him at work, I trust that He is doing something behind the scenes. I suppose that’s faith.
Is there more to faith? Is a deep-seated conviction or belief the only thing that God requires of us? Or is there more to our faith?
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6
We know that faith is a requirement for pleasing God. But, right there, we see a key: those who have faith must not only believe, but they must also earnestly seek.
I have come to the conclusion that faith requires action.
This concept has been stuck in my mind for weeks. I can’t seem to escape it. As I mull scripture, I can’t find a single biblical character whose faith did not express itself through action. As you walk through the Great Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11), you see it repeatedly.
It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God… (v 4)
It was by faith that Noah built a large boat…(v 7)
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him… (v 8)
It was by faith that even Sarah … believed that God would keep his promise… (v 11)
It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac… (v 17)
On and on it goes, through Isaac and Jacob, Joseph and Moses. The chapter walks through the Old Testament, showing repeatedly the actions that the great heroes took as a result of their faith. They stood firm in the face of unbelievably difficult circumstances. They chose to look like fools who had lost their mind to the unbelievers around them—all because their faith drove them to walk obediently, to take action.
Let’s cross into the New Testament. There was Peter who chose to take that first step out of the boat as the waves pounded around him (Matthew 14). Consider the woman who was healed because she reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ robe (Mark 5). How about the group that brought their friend and lowered him through the roof so that Jesus could heal him (Mark 2).
Throughout scripture, faith leads to action, faith expresses itself through action.
For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Even this famous passage tells us that we walk by faith. Walk…Action…Movement.
Let’s look at the book of James.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? … In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself….Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works… Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected….You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone…. For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26)
I find myself trusting God for a variety of things, things that I know beyond a doubt He has promised me. Sometimes I feel like a complete fool.
“Really, God?” I ask. “There is no way that is going to happen. I can’t see how that could ever be. Yet, I have come to know your voice, and I know I hear you. Ok. If you say so, I will believe.”
I’ve had that conversation with God repeatedly in the last few years. And, I’m learning that my faith is backed up by my actions. The more I act on what God has told me, the more my faith grows, the more confident I become. When my faith is finally strong enough in what He has told me that I take that first step that shows my faith, He grabs me and carries me through the rest.
For example, I know that God has promised that He is preparing an amazing man for my future. So, I began journaling. I pick up that journal and tell my future husband what is happening in my life. I tell him how I am praying for him, how God is working in my life. I tell him how much I love him and how I can’t wait until I can walk hand-in-hand with him. I tell him about the hopes and dreams I have for our future. One day, I will present these journals to this man who I already love so dearly. One day, he will read about my journey, how I chose to prepare myself for him. One day, it will be as obvious to him as it is to me that our relationship was created in heaven, ordained by our Savior, long before we met.
Other times the action might be more subtle. I’ve written recently about the struggles with anger and bitterness that I still have toward my ex-husband. Even through admitting these struggles, I find an absolute breakthrough. As God showed me my absolute exhaustion, I made a commitment to rest—and I felt instant peace. As God revealed the ugly bitterness still in my heart, I committed to pray—and His peace flooded my soul. As I struggle with the injustice of the situation, I admit it to God and ask for Him to handle it—and I find my bitterness fading away.
Taking a step of faith—or obedience—does not have to be huge. Sometimes it’s small—admitting you are powerless, asking for His help. Sometimes it is a willingness to not do anything—a decision to wait for God to act. Sometimes it may require you to step far away from your comfort zone, to risk looking like a fool to others.
I don’t know what you are dealing with today, but God says that faith pleases Him. Faith also requires action of some type. Ask God to strengthen your faith today—and then be willing to act. Your actions will serve to strengthen your faith—and allow you to be pleasing to Him.