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The Priority of Faith

October 9th, 2018

Without faith it is impossible to please God… (Hebrews 11:6)

The world does not care what we believe, just so long as we perform our jobs, do our civic duty, and stay out of their way. It is easy for Christians also to adopt this attitude toward one another, and even toward our own life. My thought life, we imagine, is my business and only what I do is important to others. 

There is a modicum of truth in that thought, that we should not be intrusive toward others or quick to judge their motives, and neither should they be toward us. (See 2 Thess. 3:11 and Matt. 7:1) But it is our thoughts, specifically our faith, that will determine the nature of our actions – whether they be good or bad, helpful or unhelpful, gracious or selfish.

There is nothing that shapes our lives so much as our faith, our inner beliefs and expectations. If you struggle in faith, pray that God would strengthen your heart, to believe Him, to love Him, to trust Him in all things. If you live and walk daily by faith you will be amazed at the peace and joy and renewed purpose that God will bring into your life. Do not obsess about possessions or positions or acceptance by others, but let Christ be your focus in your heart, for this is the most important matter of life.

Our hearts should be our homes while on earth

We live between our ears, and though the outside world does affect our thoughts – a chaotic home life can disrupt our ‘peace of mind’ – in the long run it is our thoughts and our inner values that will determine our actions. The Bible says:

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Prov. 4:23)

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children… (Deut. 4:9)

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21)

The importance of our hearts being like a home to us is frequently stressed in scripture. All of these scriptures above have in their context this emphasis. Momentary faith saves us – it only takes a second of genuine faith to bring us into a saving relationship with Christ – but constant heart-felt and heart-held faith is the stuff of mature Christians.

Faith in God re-shapes every challenge of life

When we walk in faith everything looks different. The problems that frighten us, alarm us, that distract us, that put us in a bad mood, are seen in their proper light. We can trust God in all circumstances.

This does not mean that every problem is automatically solved by our faith, but, perhaps, in a way they are. The problem is solved through our faith for we see the matter for what it truly is. The problem is solved for faith leaves the matter with God. The problem is solved because we realize that we need no longer live in fear and worry. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s profound words, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13), do not say that I can overcome every obstacle in a material or physical way through Christ, but that I can endure all things through Him. I can endure them happily and peacefully.

Reshaping our thoughts from “me” to “Christ” and to “others”

I know many men who have prided themselves on being good providers for their family – and this is certainly an important thing to do, to take care of our loved ones. Yet our goals for living must be more than this alone, for we will find the same principle at work in our children as we find in ourselves. If all we ever do is think about ourselves, if all we consider is how much I have, then I will never feel like I have enough. A selfish life is one of misery.

Faith in God reshapes our thoughts and the entire purpose of our lives – not to receive but to give and to share. I can never forget the example of my mother who, though we were poor and financially struggling , went out of her way to find poorer people to help. I didn’t understand it when I was young, and, in fact, it was sometimes an embarrassment to me, but that was simply an expression of her faith.

There is no other way to do this other than by disciplining our minds, shutting out those influences that are unholy and putting in those influences that are biblical and spiritual. To stop obsessing on how much we have or do not have and focus on how good God is. Stop complaining or worrying about what you want and start considering the needs of those around you, and how you can help them.

And God will reward us with more peace and joy than we could imagine. His peace transcends all understanding and it guards our hearts from worry and unhappiness.

What we believe – truly believe in our hearts – will determine what we do and how we react.

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