Don’t worry; this isn’t a post about pre-Christmas physical fitness!
If you know me well, then you’ve probably learned not to get me talking about the gym. I love it and I will bore you with all kinds of talk about it! However, the Bible includes a few exercise analogies, and so I hope you’ll forgive me if I use one today too.
Living by faith can feel like something I do once in a while when I’m out of other options, rather than an everyday habit.
(By ‘living by faith’ I mean: following Christ and living out the gospel boldly, obediently, and sacrificially within the contexts and opportunities that God has provided, even when we feel weak, afraid, and ill-equipped.)
One of the problems with this is that trusting God bears some similarities to exercise. The more often you work a muscle, the stronger it gets and the easier and less painful it is. But if you only exercise occasionally you’re in for a lot of discomfort!
I wonder sometimes if trusting God can feel so uncomfortable because I’ve let it become an occasional thing rather than a daily part of my life. And just like sporadic gym attendance, it doesn’t feel very natural, I’m anxious, and my enjoyment of the process is ruined!
Perhaps like me you need some reminders of why living by faith is so good, and why it should be an everyday thing instead of the final option we choose when our resources run out:
1) God is utterly trustworthy and wise. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. Ps18:30
2) Fear and worry are cruel and fruitless masters. Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matt 6:27
3) God loves to be good to his children. For your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matt 6:8 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matt 7:11
4) Trusting in God is a privelege. In contrast to him, we are unreliable, short sighted, sinful, and weak, with many circumstances outside of our control. It should give us great peace of mind to trust in someone greater in every respect than ourselves!
5) God is weaving us into his story. As his people, by faith we get to be part of something greater and much more meaningful than we can imagine. (See Hebrews 11!)
6) As disciples we are followers. Having to trust in God’s leading and to wait for his help or resources protects this dynamic, lest we stride too far ahead on our own without his guidance.
7) Trusting God daily preserves his kingdom priorities: He is the King, we are his servants, we are to live for his glory and to further his kingdom. 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’. . . 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt 6:31, 33
8) Living by faith makes us distinctive and attractive witnesses in a world where it’s ‘every man for himself’. By this we model to friends and family a better way to live – as loved and satisfied people cared for by a faithful God. For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. Matt 6:32
9) It’s a protection for us against wilful independence, idolatry, and self centredness. When we experience questions, doubts, or need, we necessarily draw near to God.
10) And as I’ve hinted with my exercise analogy, living by faith causes us to grow – in faith, in Christian maturity, in hope, and in love for our God. As we see him guide and provide for us we are humbled and blessed, and our faith is reinforced.
So the challenge for me (and I hope for you) is:
Am I growing strong in faith? Do I daily rely on God’s power and provision? Or do I think “Phew! Glad that’s over, hopefully I can relax for a while before I need to flex those faith muscles again.”
Why does God want us to be in constant attendance at the gym of faith? It’s part of growing in trust-filled relationship , walking with him more and more intimately, and enjoying seeing him work according to his will. Ultimately and unsurprisingly it’s for our blessing.
Join me in praying to our good God with the honesty of the man in Mark 9: “I believe; help my unbelief!”