What Does Walking By Faith Look Like?
2 Cor 4: 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Cor 5: 7 For we live by faith, not by sight.
This message started with a discussion about my hair – whether or not it looked better naturally dried with mousse in it, or without mousse. My step study partners said they liked my hair the way it dried without mousse in it better than with mousse. I didn’t agree with them. Without mousse, to me my hair looks more frizzy, less defined curls, and gets bigger throughout the day. With mousse, to me, my hair looks less messy with more defined curls that have a little shine to them. At first I just ignored what they said, because that is how I had thought of my hair for as long as I remembered. But then I stopped and asked myself, “What if they are right? Just because I see it one way, is it possible I am not seeing things accurately?” At that point, I have a choice to make. Do I trust in what I see and feel, or in what 2 other people see and feel?
It made me think of people who have lost weight but can’t see it. Anorexic people look in the mirror and see a fat person. Before I got pregnant with my second child, I lost 40 pounds. It was the lowest weight I had ever been. I had in my mind’s eye what I should look like after losing weight, and when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see it. I told a friend that I still wasn’t happy, because I wanted to be HER size. She looked at me in confusion and said, “But you ARE my size!” I didn’t believe her, and so she took me home to her house, opened up the closet door, and instructed me to try on any of her clothes. I did, AND THEY FIT! I had only believed what I had seen with my own eyes, never ever considering the possibility that what I saw WAS NOT ACCURATE.
The same thing happens in interventions. People are stuck in their own way of seeing their life, and it takes a group of other people sharing how they see what is happening to open the eyes of the addicted person to the possibility that life is NOT actually how they see it. They can’t see how their actions are negatively affecting those around them, and they have to be told that all is not well, despite how they feel about their own life.
Then I wondered about how much I trust what I see with my eyes in everyday life, and live according to it. My attitudes, my beliefs, my emotions and my actions all reflect what I see with my eyes most days, and I rarely stop and second guess myself. It takes the Holy Spirit interrupting my thoughts and inserting one of His ideas into my mind to take me off my natural course of thinking, and to start seeing things as He does, and starting thinking, feeling and acting in a godly way.
Well, if there is a huge possibility that I am not able to see this world as it truly is, nor myself as I truly am, nor others as they truly are, there’s an even bigger possibility that I am not seeing God as He truly is, nor seeing all situations through God’s eyes and understanding His purposes.
So I started considering that living by faith means believing in how God sees and understands the situations I am in, instead of living by (or reacting to) what I THINK I see happening physically around me, or believing my own thoughts of why things are happening as they are. But how can I do that?
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
The proof of our relationship with God is our faith in Him, entrusting our lives and everything that is important to us to His care and protection, believing that He wants the best for us and can be trusted.
Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1: 12
That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
So we have two challenges before us – to KNOW God, and to TRUST God:
1) We have to know God and His character. How do we get to know God?
- First, through reading and understanding His Word,
- Secondly, through the teaching that His Holy Spirit shares with us personally, and
- Lastly, from what we and others have experienced and shared about His goodness and faithfulness.
Ronnie mentioned to me that he didn’t have to hear me say that I love him for him to know that I love him. The fact that I am with him is all the confirmation he needs to know that I am committed to him and love him.
So I asked him if he would feel the same way if I had to go away for work for a few months. Would he still be so sure of my love for him. He honestly answered that he may struggle unless he got to talk to me often. Otherwise, his confidence might be shaken and he may struggle with doubts about me.
If I was out there with someone he trusted, and my phone died, and I had my friend talk to Ronnie and say that I was fine, he would feel better about it.
In that same way, we can trust in God’s goodness because either we feel His presence, or we simply know from His Word and His promises that He is with us. Sometimes it takes someone else who we trust telling us what God has told them in order to trust in God. But our trust will break down if we do not communicate with Him on a continual basis. He will seem far away, and we will start doubting all we believed was true when we are hit with a storm.
2) We have to trust God by
- believing that He knows what is best in every situation, and can bring good things out of bad situations, and by
- acting on our knowledge of His goodness, despite what we see and feel.
Paul suffered many different things, but because he KNEW God personally, Paul could believe in God and be convinced that God was trustworthy to guard all that was important to Paul.
- We can believe that God exists, but not believe that He is good, and we still will not trust Him.
- We can believe that God is good, but He is not involved in our personal lives, and we will not trust Him.
- Only when we believe that he exists AND that He is a REWARDER of those who earnestly seek Him will we trust Him and live by faith.
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.
An example of walking by faith through MOST of his life would be David. David was known as a man after God’s own heart. Look at his story. He was anointed as King as a boy, and immediately had to return to being a shepherd of his father’s flocks. He then spent years serving Saul, followed by years being hunted by Saul and having to live with outlaws in caves, in fear of his life from Saul. Saul came into the cave one day and David had the opportunity to kill him. If he were you or I (or his followers in the cave), we would have said, “Hey, I’ve been chosen as King already, this guy is trying to kill me, which is not very nice. God has just delivered him into my hand – surely that must mean God wants me to kill him and take my rightful place as King.” We could justify the reasoning to fit how we saw the situation.
But that is not how God saw it, and luckily for David, he saw it as God saw it. He said it was up to God to kill Saul, not David. He was open to seeing it in a way that didn’t mean immediate gratification for David. He knew that God’s method of operations was not to do things in David’s timing, and that there could be quite a time in between a prophecy’s proclamation and its fulfillment.
An example of NOT walking by faith (or seeing things as God sees them), but instead acting out of his own reasoning, vision and feelings was Jonah. God loved the people of Ninevah and wanted them saved, even if they were the enemy of Israel. When God told Jonah to go to Nineval to preach repentance to the people of the city, or they would be destroyed, Jonah immediately left – but went in the exact opposite direction, as far as he could travel.
Jonah hated the Ninevites. He wanted them to die. They were hateful enemies of Israel. He reasoned that they were bad people, and he really didn’t have to obey God and preach His warning to them. God wouldn’t really want Him to do that. Maybe Jonah talked himself out of believing he had even heard God correctly. In any case, he either:
- didn’t know God well enough to understand that God was a loving God who wanted to reconcile all people to him, and was serious about saving Ninevah, or
- the way Jonah saw it, the Ninevites deserved to die a horrible and painful death, and God was just mistaken in his request, and Jonah knew better, or
- Jonah simply didn’t trust God that what God was doing was in the best interest of God’s plan for everyone.
The bottom line is that we are not always certain that God is completely good and completely for us, or something in us believes that God is not all powerful enough to fix the situation. That is why, like Sarah and Abraham, we decide to create a plan of our own to fix the situation, to HELP God out a little, and that always makes things worse.
God does not change. We just cannot see everything as He sees it. In the absence of knowledge, we make things up in our heads about why God is or is not doing something. But rationalization is not the same as trust. Simple faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness to us means entrusting to Him every situation and person that is out of our control, regardless if our thoughts and emotions scream just the opposite. Simple faith says, “I just asked God to help me through it and heal my heart”, without demanding answers about why.
Do you KNOW whom you have believed in?
Are you persuaded that He is able?
To keep what you have committed to Him?
All the way until you see Him in heaven?