What is Faith? Part 10
People of faith have a way of thinking that transforms their actions. It involves their decisions, purposes, will, and the accompanying emotions. Human hearts and minds work together in mysterious ways. Since the immaterial cannot be seen, if it often impossible to divide and define.
The minds and hearts of the people of Hebrews 11 were firmly fastened to the facts of God’s character. They were confidently persuaded of God’s existence and righteousness. With this undergirding, their actions were dictated by what they knew and believed to be true of him.
Sometimes their emotions agreed. Sometimes not.
Either way, God fastened their heartfelt emotions to him through their obedience. They were not perfect. But through messy growth and often faltering steps, they learned to act upon what they knew to be true.
Growth in faith begets maturity.
Maturity produces further growth in faith.
Growth in faith and maturity affect our actions.
Our emotions are then transformed.
Confidence and assurance overcame their doubts, fears, and hesitations. They were firmly persuaded of the truth that God exists and that he keeps his promises. And, being persuaded, they relied on him.
Their thought processes caused them to look forward with expectant hope to all God had promised (11:10) and to view God as faithful (11:11). They reckoned that God could do the miraculous, even raising the dead (11:19).
Though the fullness of God’s promises did not occur in their lifetimes, they knew these were coming. They saw them on the horizon and embraced the coming fulfillment, even if it occurred after their deaths (11:13).
Their home was God’s better country, and they stretched toward that place rather than remaining anchored here. They welcomed God’s eternal city from afar, even on their death beds (11:13-22).
Therefore, God was not ashamed to be called their God (11:16b), and he is not ashamed to be called ours when we think, trust, and act according to our confidence in him.
What does this look like for us today?
If we truly believe in Christ as Savior like they believed in him as coming Messiah, faith should shape our actions as it shaped theirs. For instance, if we believe God answers prayer, yet we seldom pray, do we really believe what we say we believe?
Like this great cloud of witnesses, our actions show us our weaknesses. Are we afraid? Do we neglect to pray? Do we struggle with obedience? Our lapses of faith are not to be denied or ignored, but to be confessed.
If fear rules my actions, it shows me I do not trust the Lord. There were times they didn’t either. Yet, their faith-filled choices are likewise expected of us if our faith is true, regardless of our wobbly emotions.
How do we live like this?
- We fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
- We consider him who endured such opposition from sinners.
Hebrews 12:1-3 displays Jesus as the pioneer, perfecter, and example of our faith. He is the only perfect example, for he lived a life without sin (Hebrews 4:14-16), a perfect life of faith.
This is why we meditate on him and his choices.
This is why, by his grace, we follow in his steps.
This is why we confess our lack of faith and beg him to increase it.
This is why we yield to the trials he allows for increasing our faith.
If we try to live by faith without keeping our hearts and minds on Jesus, we will grow weary and lose heart. We cannot do this in our own strength. Like these people of faith, we must fix our all upon the Lord, what he has promised, what he has done, and what awaits us with him for eternity.
Right thinking then affects our actions and emotions as it did theirs.
God knows we are dust. Our faith originates in him, not in ourselves. Thankfully, this prayer of faith demonstrates the essential truths of this passage and the humility produced by true faith:
“Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief. Empower me to trust and obey.”