It’s perplexing how something as fundamental as faith can be so confusing and illusive. Ask 100 people what faith is and you’ll get 300 answers. Could it be that much of the confusion and ambiguity stems from what we are told to focus on? Maybe we’re putting the cart before the horse?
The predominant theme of most faith discussions focuses on the “expression of faith” and the promised benefits. We are told that doing certain things will help us achieve certain outcomes; that great faith depends on how successfully we demonstrate it, claim it, speak it, stand in it, walk in it, rest in it, read about it, talk about it, and invest in it.
But how do you know what to do when? What expression is best for a given circumstance? How do you know when to walk in faith or stand in faith? How can we know when our expressions make us seekers of results or seekers of God?
The challenge with expression focused faith is that, although promising to produce faith, it actually distracts us from the the very thing that does produce faith. Jesus said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move a mountain. I don’t know about you, but sometimes the pressure to come up with an expression of faith to prove my faith can feel like the opposite; like I need an entire mountain just to move a mustard seed.
What seems to be missing is a balanced focus on the actual origin of faith; where faith comes from and how it’s formed in us? Romans 10:17 explains that, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The Greek translation for “word” as it is used in Romans 10:17 is Rhema, which literally means to utter or speak. So we could interpret the passage to say, “When we experience God’s voice speaking to us in our situation, hearing his Word(s) produces the ability to trust him.”
In John 10:27, Jesus provides the perfect example of this. He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” The sheep hear the shepherd’s voice because they are close to him. When they hear his voice they know they can trust what the voice is instructing. Their expression, if you will, is born from relationship, which puts them in the position to hear the trusting voice of a trustworthy shepherd.
What I’m trying to say is, faith is not something that we consume or use as a tool to gain our desires. Faith is what is formed in us as we experience God’s voice speaking to us; situation-by-situation, point-by-point. True faith is not outcome based. True faith is relationship based because true faith is the work of God in us, not the work of us in us.
I can’t tell you exactly what God will say to you or how he will say it. Only he knows what you need to hear and how you need to hear it. But I can tell you what experiencing God’s voice will NOT be like. When God speaks:
- It will never be in opposition to his written Word or his character.
- His Words will not be laced with subtle manipulations or spin.
- He won’t make you feel pressured, hoodwinked or used.
- His Words are not camouflaged with selfish motives or hidden agendas.
- God won’t put you on a guilt trip to please Him. He does not need to be needed. He’s not co-dependent.
- His Words don’t contain a never-ending list of demands. God is not requiring our performance.
- His Words don’t sting with criticism, judgment or condemnation. God takes no pleasure in condemning us. He is loving, kind and full of compassion for the things we go through.
Asking for a greater ability to hear God’s voice should be our first step of faith. Focusing on how to improve our relationship with the Father should be our greatest expression of faith. And it starts by following the admonition of Saint Paul in Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.”
5 Easy Steps to Life Changing Prayer will help you discover all the ways God is presently speaking to you, how to recognize it and what to do with it? God bless, and be sure to leave a comment about his blog. I would love to hear from you!