“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
I’ve been thinking a lot about faith lately. I think all too often Christians confuse hope for faith. There’s a very important distinction between the two: you must have hope to have faith, but you don’t have to have faith to have hope. Look at Hebrews 11:1 again… a part of having faith is “… being sure of what we hope for…“. The problem is that many of us stop there. We know what we hope for, but that’s only the first part of having faith… we have to be “… certain of what [we] do not see.” Faith requires both parts! Substituting hope for faith is like trying to win a race without crossing the finish line… you have to start and finish. The power is not in starting the race… anyone can do that. The power is in finishing. This is why faith is so difficult.
Now consider the power of faith. Matthew 17:20 tells us that faith “… as small as a mustard seed” can move mountains. Now that’s power! Yet, why are so many Christians lacking the power of God in their lives? It is a lack of faith. So many Christians talk, and talk, and talk about faith, but all they really have is hope. They hope God will do this or that, but there is no certainty that he will do it! They try to hedge their bets… they make plans in case things don’t work out… they worry and wonder what the outcome will be. Where’s the faith in that? When you are certain about something there is no second-guessing!
Now don’t get me wrong… there’s nothing wrong with hope. Hope is a great thing and it is a key part of faith, but it alone has no power. Without the certainty that God will do what he promises, the great acts of faith we see in the Bible would never have happened. Faith gives us the confidence to act on Gods promises… hope alone does not. This is why James so powerfully proclaimed:
“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:18)
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26)
It was faith that empowered Abraham to take Issac to be sacrificed. It was faith that empowered David to fight Goliath. It was faith the empowered Jesus to submit to the cross. It was faith that empowered the apostles to preach the good news that ultimately led to their executions.
Notice how faith always inspired fearless action! Hope doesn’t do that… only faith does. That’s why “…certain[ty] in what you do not see” is so important. The certainty of faith removes all fear, all doubt, all trepidation… something that simple hope cannot.
It makes me sad to see so many Christains lossing “faith in faith” because they don’t see God’s power in their lives. Yet, the problem is they never had faith to begin with! What’s even more tragic, is that the world sees so many “faithless” Christains talking about how great and powerful God is. No wonder so many people aren’t interested in Jesus… we proclaim one thing with our mouths, but our lives proclaim something completely different.
My prayer is that the next time we claim to have “faith”, we would look honestly at our actions and see if they reflect someone who is certain about what they are believing for. Faith is a choice, and choosing to trust releases the power of God to work in your lives.