In 1997, I was told by a well-meaning, hateful woman in my church that the reason I was still giving into my sin was because I did not have enough faith.
“Not enough faith!?!?!”, I screamed back at her, “I sit home in obedience every weekend, submerging myself in the Bible, listening to Christian radio, and feeling unforgivably lonely, waiting for God to heal me. And you tell me I don’t have enough faith!?!?! Lady, you do not have the slightest clue what you are talking about.”
After harboring several years of resentment toward that “rotten, holier than Thou” woman, I have to confess, humbly, that she was absolutely right.
The reason I, and many of us, fight the battle against our sin and lose can be traced to our lack of faith. There, I said it. But, before you spit out your gum and wrap it in this partially-read article, let me share with you what I learned one day, while sitting in church.
The preacher said six little words in the middle of his sermon that left me numb. He said, “Faith is obedience…and nothing more”. He uttered these words so unemotionally, that I suspect he took for granted everyone already knew them.
I have never claimed to be the brightest star in the night sky, but I’ve always believed I wasn’t the dimmest either…until that moment. How could I have so totally missed the boat on faith?
Maybe my confusion can be traced back to excessive sci-fi movies as a child, or to subjecting myself in the wee hours of the night to psychic hotline infomercials, but whenever I thought of what Jesus said in Matthew 17:20...
“Because you have so little faith, I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
I would envision a disciple in a simple, undecorated white room, seated at a generic-looking table. With his left hand cupped over his forehead, he would stare incessantly at a glass of water in the center of the table, and chant “I think I can, I think I can”, trying to muster up enough faith to elevate it.
No wonder I had not been able to move any mountains! Faith is not sitting home on a Saturday night, resisting the urge to be worldy while blasting Christian music until you know Amy Grant better than she knows herself. No, that is only half-faith.
You see, faith is obedience and nothing more. And Jesus gave us two distinct classes of commands to obey: the “do’s” and the “do not’s”.
When we are tempted to sin, we can easily dedicate all our energy to resisting to “do not’s” so that we have none left to proactively tackle to “do’s”.
I have made an incredible discovery in my life. When I changed my focus from resisting the “do not’s” to aggressively practicing the “do’s” I began to have less energy, less time and less desire to crave the “do not’s”.
I believe there is a reason for this. When we go feed the poor, visit the lonely, and intentionally love the unlovely, we become Jesus’ representative to them. To aid us in our endeavors, Jesus makes Himself available and notably present to us. As a result, we inevitably come to experience Him in a more intense and real way.. Conversely, when we focus on resisting the “do not’s”, we spend a lot of our time on guard against Satan’s trickery and, unintentionally, we can make him our focus and not Jesus. At this point we can develop bitterness toward Jesus for what we perceive as a lack of compassion toward our crisis.
When we obey only the “do not’s” we are fifty-percent obedient. When we obey only the “do’s” yet continue to engage in sinful behavior, we are again, fifty-percent obedient. Only when we lay it down in an act of pre-emptive faith and obey both the “do’s” and the “do not’s” can we claim to be striving for obedience.
I have come to grasp, at long last, that faith is not born of a strong-willed mind. It is born exclusively out of a submissive heart.
Stop "trying" to believe and start disciplining yourself to obey with a “no-matter what” attitude. You will find yourself moving mountains you’ve only dreamed about.
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