Some might say that faith is a feeling but I think faith is a verb, an action verb. Faith is demonstrated by our actions. I show my faith by my actions. Hebrews 11:1-3 gives a definition of faith saying,
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
I was reminded of that “certain of what I do not see” aspect of faith as I walked yesterday under a gray cloudy sky. As I looked up, I noticed a small break in the clouds revealing a clear, bright blue patch of sky. It was only a tiny opening in the clouds but it bore witness to the fact that somewhere above the clouds, the sun was shining and the sky was a brilliant blue. The fact that I couldn’t see it, didn’t mean it didn’t exist. It was another “tree falling in the forest” moment. If I don’t see the sun rise because it’s raining or cloudy, does that mean the sun didn’t come up today? Or do I trust that the sun rose on schedule even though all I see before me is pouring rain?
Abraham was a man who showed his faith by his actions. By trusting and obeying God, Abraham demonstrated his faith. We read what happened in Genesis 12:1-4,
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’ . . . So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.”
No map, no itinerary, no reservations made – just leave your, well your everything and go to, well it’s an unknown to you but not to Me – so I will show you the way – is essentially what God said to Abraham. (who at that time was called Abram) And Abraham responded with trust, obedience and faith. He packed up and followed faithfully where God led him. Abraham was truly “walking by faith and not by sight” because he didn’t know his destination. Only God did. And Abraham trusted God. He followed in faith. We see this exchange between God and Abraham in Genesis 15:5-7,
“He (God) took him (Abraham) outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, ‘I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.’ ”
This promise of God to Abraham was pretty incredible considering that at the time Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were childless. Sarah was barren and Abraham who had been seventy-five years old when he started on this journey, wasn’t getting any younger. To be asked to believe that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars when he didn’t have even one child at the time, would have stretched anyone’s faith. And yet we read, “Abram believed the Lord.” He had faith and he showed that faith by continuing to follow and obey God.
As it turns out, this wasn’t Abraham’s most difficult test of faith, incredible as that promise must have seemed to a childless couple. Later, Abraham and Sarah would miraculously conceive and Sarah would give birth to a son, Issac. But Abraham’s faith would be tested again even more severely than before.
“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, . . . ‘Take your son, your only son, Issac, whom you love, and to to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’ ” (Genesis 22:1-2)
So Abraham took Issac and traveled up the mountain as God had instructed him to do. He built an altar, arranged the wood, bound Issac, laid him on the altar and took a knife to slay his son. It was at this moment things changed,
“But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, . . . ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.’ ” (Genesis 22:11-12)
Abraham had responded in obedience and faith once again and had passed the test. We see what the results of his act of faith will be as we read these words in Genesis 22:16-18,
“”I swear by Myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed Me.”
To think that you and I are blessed and all nations are blessed because Abraham in faith, obeyed God! Could it be that my obedience and faith matter to God also? Could God use your actions or my actions of faith to bring blessings to other people? Years later, people still remembered Abraham’s actions at that altar on the mountain. James writes about Abraham’s act of sacrifice in his letter to the twelve tribes saying,
“Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isacc on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.” (James 2:21-23)
It would seem that faith is a necessary prerequisite for obedience. Faith enables me, makes me bold enough to obey God. And my obedience being the result of my faith, is the evidence of my faith and completes my faith, as James said in his letter. James sums this relationship up with these words,
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds (action) is dead.” (James 2:26)
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)
Our faith is revealed in our actions. Our faith comes to life in our actions. Our faith is lived out in our actions. I guess that’s why James says,
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25, italics mine)
faith really is an action verb!
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22, Revised Standard translation)
sincerely, Grace Day
2 thoughts on “C.C. faith is an action verb #180”
I agree! Faith and actions go hand in hand.
It is hard sometimes to act on faith but definitely required by God that we act on our faith.