Faith is misunderstood by far too many people today. It’s unfortunate to say the least. Our misunderstanding of what faith is (and is not) keeps us paralyzed and trapped in mediocrity.
The Importance of Faith
Faith is one of the things that Jesus praised people for repeatedly throughout his ministry. Jesus was attracted to people who demonstrated faith. He also admonished his inner circle when they didn’t demonstrate faith.
Jesus directly connected people’s faith with their ability to receive healing. “Your faith has made you well,” is a statement we see him make multiple times in the Gospels.
Contrast that with today where the term faith healing is a derogatory term. Granted there have been charlatans over the years who have preyed on people’s ignorance of what faith really is. Unfortunately we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater today in this area.
You see faith is how we humans move anything forward today regardless of whether we follow Jesus or not.
Take the typical secular book on leadership and it will have a section on the importance of the leader having vision, the ability to see where he wants to take the organization. That ability of the leader to see in his mind’s eye something that has not yet come to pass and arrange and do things so that that idea becomes a tangible reality is basically faith in action.
What Faith is Not
Many folks have a wrong idea of what faith is. They think it is some mystical force that only certain special true devotee’s can ever tap into.
Sort of like the Jedi knights of Star Wars.
As a result they sit around and pray that God will give them more faith or unlock the magic door so that they will suddenly have faith. Then, their hope is, whatever they are longing for will suddenly drop into their lap because their new found faith conjured it up.
But that’s not what faith is. Nor is it how faith works.
So What is Faith?
Faith is a tangible thing. The classic verse in the bible where it is defined is in Hebrews:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. — Hebrews 11:1
The Greek word that is translated substance there means a confidence that is so sure, that has such a firm foundation that has actual existence.
It means that you can actually see faith. And that explains why James said this when was exhorting the church to be doers of the Word and not just hearers only:
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. — James 2:18
The point that James drives home is that faith is an action word. It is what is evident when people go beyond simply believing something into acting on that belief.
That’s why a while back I wrote about the difference between faith and belief. In that article I wrote this formula to explain what faith is.
Faith = ( Belief + Action + Confidence )
Faith is a doing word. Without action all we have is belief, not faith. The amount of faith we have is determined by the amount of confidence we have in what we believe combined with the type and intensity of action we take as a result.
Notice something that doesn’t factor into the faith equation – results.
The reason why results aren’t included in that equation is because the results are determined by what is believed. If what you believe is true then the results you see will be what you expect. If your belief or beliefs are not true then you will not see the results you expect.
Where most people fall down is that they want to see the results before they take any action. It doesn’t work that way.
Correcting Our Focus
The key then is to adjust our focus. Instead of trying to conjure up some mystical force that we don’t really understand we should concentrate on adjusting our beliefs to align with truth. That is why Bible study is so critical to our being able to see faith in action in our lives.
Here’s how the Psalmist said it.
The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. — Psalms 119:160
Notice it says the entirety of God’s word is truth. There is potential danger in latching onto one verse because that verse may be pulled out of context it might not mean what we assume at first. It is important to understand scripture in light of everything else written in the Bible.
That’s a whole other big topic. But suffice it to say that God’s word never contradicts itself. So if we see something that appears contradictory that means we need to study a little more to understand what is really being said.
Unfortunately that is an area where many people get tripped up, especially when it comes to flexing their faith. For example, it happens far too frequently where healing is concerned.
Some people get this twisted idea that doing anything in the natural like going to a doctor or taking medicine is somehow sinful. They refuse to seek medical treatment because they feel they should be able to see a healing manifest by faith even though they don’t have their beliefs closely aligned enough with scripture and with enough confidence to actually see the miracle happen.
When you’re not there yet then go to the doctor!
Be honest with yourself about what you believe and act accordingly. There is no shame in that. If you want to see more miracles in your life then invest more time in studying the Bible. Renewing your mind and lining your beliefs up with the truth will help you be more bold in your faith.
Then over time you will begin to see more of the miraculous in your life.
But there are no shortcuts here. If you chose not to invest the time to change the way you think and believe so that it lines up with the entirety of God’s word then the results you see are going to be inconsistent at best.