Steps To Living-By-Faith
Jesus Christ taught people not to think about how to feed and clothe themselves.
(Matthew 6:25-32) He said that if we would work to build his kingdom, God would feed and clothe us. (Matthew 6:33) He called labourers to come and work for him, (Matthew 11:29-30) and not to labour for the “food that perishes”. (John 6:27) He said that we cannot work for two employers at the same time, and that making money and serving God are mutually exclusive motives for doing things. (Luke 16.13) He said that if we do not leave everything we own, we cannot call ourselves his followers. (Luke 14:33)
Common sense tells us that such teachings just wouldn’t work in today’s world. So most of us reject outright what Jesus said.
Yet, if Jesus is really the Son of God, then maybe we ought to put more faith in him than in “common sense”. Maybe we ought to at least give his teachings a try.
This article outlines some practical tips to living-by-faith based on the experience of people who have tried… and found that they work.
The first and most important lesson is for us to learn to pray. Not long hours of self-torture, or eloquent recitations, but real, gut-level honesty with God and with ourselves. If we’re going to climb out of a boat and try to walk on water, we can’t afford to have misplaced faith. We must ask God to show us His will clearly, from the teachings of His Son.
God will use many different means to feed and clothe us, and if we are not brutally honest, we will soon be trusting the means more than we trust God. Prayer helps us to stay honest.
The Bible says to be content with food and clothing. (I Timothy 6:8) Jesus instructed us to pray only for enough food for today. (Luke 11:3) If God gives us literature, musical instruments, vehicles, buildings, computers, or whatever to use for him, that’s fine. But we don’t have to have these things. People who think they must have such things are always working for something that they decided they needed, instead of getting to work right now with what God has given them to work with.
If we have hands, legs, a strong back, a voice, and/or a good mind to use to share God’s love with others, then we have more than enough to get started… right now!
When we only need enough cash for our daily bread, it’s not so difficult to believe that we can survive, at least for a while, on the resources that we already have. We can start by selling the things we have, and using the funds for the poor. (Luke 12:32-34) Any time we find ourselves without food enough for today, we can classify ourselves as “poor”, and some of the funds can go toward feeding ourselves.
We should resist the temptation to give our worldly wealth to family and friends, who do not need them. We should make the rich pay for our possessions if they want them, and then use the proceeds to help those who are really in need, as Jesus commanded. We may find ourselves with sufficient funds to assist with things like transport and literature to get this message of living by faith out to other people as well. This, too, is part of what Jesus has told us to do (Mark 16:15)… as long as we never go into debt to do so (Romans 13:8), and as long as we don’t hang onto things because “someday” we may be able to use them for God. (James 5:2-3)
If we are miserly with the funds or possessions we have when we are “living by faith”, then we aren’t really living by faith. We must not become trapped into thinking that everyone else must do the giving now, and we must always be the receiver.
We should try to regularly give something… secretly… totally… (whether or not the recipient deserves it) without any strings attached. We should also guard against giving in the hope of getting something in return, or to build up a good reputation. It is our secret giving that is the real measure of our faith in God, and it will also be the greatest faith-builder, as we see God himself responding in ways that we had never expected.
Living by faith should not be a cop-out from social responsibility. We just have a different Employer (God) and a different motive (Love). We should be constantly watching and listening for practical ways to show God’s love. While others concentrate on jobs that offer prestige or good pay, we can look for where the greatest needs are, then seek to meet them. If we are not working, we are not living by faith. We show our faith by our works (James 2:18), and if we refuse to work for our new Employer, we just might find that he refuses to feed us! (II Thessalonians 3:10)
Greedy people have no shame about asking for ridiculous sums of money for themselves and for their products. So why should God’s people, who are ready to give their lives in service to others, feel guilty about asking for help in some small way?
Jesus commanded his disciples, when arriving in a town, to “ask who is worthy” to help them, and to eat the food and accept the shelter that these people provide. He added: “The labourer is worthy of his hire.” (Matthew 10:10-11, Luke 10:7-8)
Greedy people will invariably condemn non-greedy people for being ‘poor’ (since they judge everyone on the basis of how much money they make). But it’s the greedy people who are not worthy of helping us, and we need not soil ourselves by accepting their money. On the other hand, neither should we let them make us feel unworthy when we accept help from people who do appreciate what we are doing.
Because love involves a minimum of two people, Jesus only promises that his Spirit will be present where “two or three people gather together” to promote his cause. (Matthew 18:20)
Our prayers and our testimonies have far more weight when expressed in company with other Christians. (Matthew 18:19; Luke 10:1; Hebrews 10:28)
Early Christians lived together, and shared everything in common. (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35) This unity made them stronger corporately, and also made them stronger individuals, because they were able to learn from each other, and to correct one another when errors arose.
Well, that’s the theory. Of course, what’s most important is whether we choose to put it into practice! Jesus said: “Don’t say, in four months I’ll begin to harvest. The harvest, indeed, is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Pray that God will send forth labourers into his harvest field.” (John 4:35; Matthew 9:37)