“Trust God” is an overused cliché that some folks often scorn as over-simplistic counseling advice that can, at times, come across as harsh or uncaring. Then again, to trust God is our greatest challenge as well as our greatest need.
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I realize the simplicity of the phrase, but should we toss the baby out with the bathwater? The number one problem in all of our lives is unbelief, a condition of the mind that manifests as a combination of our inability and our unwillingness to allow God to have full reign in our lives.
Whenever you are working with a person, seeking to help them through a personal or relational challenge, if you drill down deep enough you will discover pockets of active unbelief entangling their heart. Fear is our greatest enemy and faith is our most excellent response to the enemy.
Faith is the perfect remedy for all of us. It is the key and the coupler that leads us to maturity. Faith is how we live through any day. And, BTW, all people–believers and unbelievers–live by faith.
“By faith” is the only way we can live, which is why when you talk about faith, you should spend less time discussing the “necessity of faith” and more time talking about the “object of your faith.” Here are a few questions that will help you to think rightly about faith.
- Where have you placed your faith? – God, or people liking you, your ability, your charisma?
- What or whom do you trust most of all? – God, or your ability to manipulate or control others?
When breaking down the “object of your faith question,” there are two broad categories to examine. You either (1) trust God’s ability to bring you through joyously and victoriously or (2) you rely on yourself (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Relying on yourself is a universal default for those who will not trust God. With the Lord out of the picture, the self-reliant person has one option, which is to trust themselves as the only right way to answer the “whom shall I trust” question.
What Is Faith?
Christians consider Hebrews 11 as the “go-to Bible chapter” on faith. It is there where you discover what faith means. You learn of many biblical characters who had to either rely on themselves or rely on the Lord.
Because faith can have multiple meanings, it is good to think about it with a tighter lens. For example, what does trusting God mean? Sometimes folks use the word to talk about our system of belief: our faith, our theology, or our doctrine.
Other individuals emphasize the quantity of our faith. These believers have “faith in their faith,” like the bigness of it matters. You will hear them teach something like, “You just need more faith” as though the quantity of their faith is what will get them through their ordeal.
Biblical faith is not primarily about a “system of truth” or surviving difficulties because your “faith bucket” is large. Having the right perspective is critical. Biblical faith is about an object–Sovereign God Almighty. Who are you trusting? Faith should not be a leap into the dark, but a jump into the bigness and wonder of God.
Biblical faith is confident humility in a persevering dependence on what God has done through Jesus. – Jim Thompson
Biblical faith is the agent of endurance in the face of any pressure that clamors to be truer than God. – Jim Thompson
Faith acts as a conduit that connects the believer to God, who is the object of their faith. The King James version of the Bible gives us a good descriptor of faith by its use of the words substance and evidence.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
The words “substance” and “evidence” point to something that is outside of yourself. Faith is not ethereal or hypothetical, but substantive and evidential. This perspective is valuable because faith is not so much about how you feel, but about what is true, objective, and measurable realities.
Can You See What I See?
Though you have not seen the result of your faith, you can know that the object (God) of your faith is real. There are measurable, viewable, and discernible data that makes up your faith.
This concept was the teaching of Paul in Romans as he was persuading his audience how they could not only know God is real, but they had no excuse for rejecting Him. The evidence was substantive and irrefutable.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. – Romans 1:20
Though some of his readers were not working with specific revelation (the Bible), they could know the realness of God through general revelation–the things He had created. You can connect this to what the Hebrew writer was saying in chapter eleven.
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. – Hebrews 11:3
Can you see Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27)? Of course, you can, which is why you are without excuse. Your faith is not swinging on thread-bare fabric. There is substantial evidence that God exists, which gives power and forward motion to your faith.
It takes more faith to believe that everything created came through random processes. This pagan worldview does not make sense because the evidence is not substantial enough to support such claims.
When I look at the world as is, there is no question in my mind how there has always been a Designer behind the design. This perspective leads me to believe (faith, hope, confidence, trust) that there is a God.
(Greenville, SC) On Tuesday, someone bombed a local Sherwin Williams Store. After firefighters arrived on the scene and the conflagration was under control, a reporter noticed unusual markings on the northernmost wall of the store.
Upon closer examination, it appears to be an exact replication of the “Mona Lisa.” Reporters and local foot traffic have been parading by the store since the explosion.
The police have sectioned off a portion of Elm Street, so the drive-by viewers do not disrupt normal traffic flow. Local paint enthusiasts have been called in to collaborate.
Thousands of Twitterers are talking about how a combination of random paint cans, mixed with the explosion, caused this most miraculous event. We’re all stunned.
I used a ridiculous story to illustrate an absurd doctrine. We have not evolved according to Darwinian thought, and randomness or a big bang–like this fake news Sherwin Williams story did not create things that did not exist previously.
It takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in God. Faith is built upon fact, not fiction. There is substance to our faith, as the creative universe affirms (Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1).
The substance of things hoped for provides the foundation for all of life. This idea is why Paul could boldly proclaim nothing will overpower a believer (Romans 8:31-39.) This type of theology is why he was fully confident the Lord will finish what He began in your life (1 Corinthians 1:8-9; Philippians 1:6).
Paul had a faith-object–the Lord. It was in someone who was real. He did not believe in random, evolutionistic processes. He believed in God. This kind of faith fortified him even when life was tough and did not make sense.
Biff is frustrated with his wife. Mable is not all he wants her to be for him and his family. He fusses, cusses, cajoles, and commends, but she still is not able to perform to his standards.
What Biff cannot see is how he is relying on himself to bring about the outcome he craves. Biff’s faith is more in Biff than in God. He is a self-reliant man who will not rest in God because he is not sure God will give him what he wants.
Biblical faith is not the warp and woof of his life. The evidence of the unseen reality of God is not as real to Biff as what he sees, knows, and believes about himself. Besides, relying on himself has always worked in the past. The proof is in the pudding.
- Biff determines there is something he wants.
- Biff figures how to get it, even if it means getting angry.
- Biff got what he wanted by relying on himself.
- Biff has more faith in himself than in God.
This process is how you know Biff’s faith is more in himself than in God. When Mable does not perform to his expectations, and he does not get the outcome he desires, he chooses to sin against her until she changes.
For Biff, it is not about faith in God, but faith in any method that gives him what he wants. He is “outcome driven.” If he were trusting God more than himself, he would be steady and secure rather than demanding Mable meet his expectations and preferences.
Are you Biff? One of the ways you can examine your faith for its stability and God-centeredness is by how you respond to life’s circumstances–especially when you do not get what you want. Being unwavering in times of trials means you have appropriately dialed your faith into God.
Biff wavers between being nice and being mean–depending on what is needed to get what he wants. He will not trust God to bring about the desired outcome, because He does not fully believe the Lord will give him what he wants.
How to Please God
And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6
Biff lives in a tension: he is unable to benefit from God because he is not pleasing God, which is what the Hebrew writer is telling us: the only way to please God is by resting, relying on, and trusting Him. To please God is to trust God. Alone.
God is pleased with us when two things about Him are reflected in the way we live our lives: first, He is real and second, He rewards those who seek Him. – Charlie Boyd
Biblical faith is about who God is and what He can do for you, which is what puts Biff in a trap (Galatians 6:1). Though he knows God exists, he is unsure God will give him what he wants.
Because Biff is not pleasing God by trusting Him, the Lord cannot reward him. The Lord rewards those who trust Him (John 3:16). But Biff wants God to come through for him and give him what he wanted. And if he did, Biff would trust the Lord. Do you see the dilemma?
If God does not give him what he wants, which He won’t, Biff must downsize his faith by placing it in the things that will make him happy–the things that will give him the reward he craves. This perspective means Biff must trust Biff, not the Lord.
To believe that God is and that He is rewarding those who seek Him means bringing your life in line with what God says. – Charlie Boyd
The big question for Biff centers on why he won’t place his faith in God. There are three reasons why Biff will not trust God. These three things are his faith killers–the things that have made God small in his life.
- Anger – Biff has been disappointed many times by God in the past. You cannot be angry (disappointed) at God and trust Him at the same time. One of the two attitudes will master you (Matthew 6:24).
- Fear – Biff is afraid God will not give him what he wants. Biff has a desired outcome in mind, but he is unsure the Lord wants to reward him, so he relies on himself.
- Ignorance – Because of his insufficient awareness of who God is and what He can do, coupled with his fear and disappointment in God, Biff chooses to rely on himself. He has a lack of understanding.
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Also published on Medium.