Grow in Faith!
As we begin this New Year, many of us would like to see ourselves growing in faith in the Lord, but how can we really grow our faith? Is it just spending more time reading the Bible and praying more to God? Sure, these are essentials, but they are not the end. Many of us can get stuck in this great resolution that we made and soon enough, the year ends without us trusting more in the Lord. After all, faith is something intangible, and probably vague as well.
As we looked into the Bible, we can have a few glimpses of various people who grew in faith. There is Abram who responded to the call of God to leave His homeland to an unknown land. There is also the young David who stood up and fought against Goliath. We also see the four friends who brought their friend who was lame to Jesus by lowering him down through the roof. Even the tax-collector, Zecchaeus, promised to give back the money he had cheated from the people. There are countless examples. Perhaps, the common thread in all these biblical examples would be a respond to act upon something after hearing the word of God or knowing about God. The people never just sit there without acting upon something. Their faith grew in the Lord as they act upon what the Lord directed them to do.
But what are some of the things that people are often challenged to? There are two aspects that I would like to highlight here. Hopefully, these may help us sense what the Lord in doing in our lives and thus motivate us to take a leap of faith to trust in Him.
The first aspect is that we are often challenged to sacrifice. As in the case of Abram, he had to sacrifice his ties with his household and the comfort he used to enjoy in his homeland. Later on, before God made a covenant with him, he was also challenged to sacrifice his long-awaited son, Isaac. Similarly, when God wants to lead us to a greater level of faith, we are often challenged to sacrifice something dear in our lives. These are often things that cost us. For that matter, a sacrifice would not be a sacrifice if it does not cost us or no longer cost us. As such, in our faith journey, God would continually lead us to sacrifice our “Isaacs”, may it be in terms of relationships, finance, career or comfort, etc. However, let us remember that our sacrifice is never greater than that of the Lord Himself, in case we adopt a victim mentality. Jesus is our greatest example of sacrifice and as such, we must be careful not to give the Lord a “cheap” or “convenient” sacrifice.
The second aspect is that we are challenged to take risks for God. Again, in the example of Abram, he was to take the risk of setting out to the Promise Land without knowing where it really was. He also had to risk taking the life of his son Isaac and believed that God would resurrect him. But after entering the land, he failed twice for not risking to tell the people that Sarah was actually his wife. We also see Rahab risking her life by lying to her own people that she did not see the spies from Israel. Daniel is another great example, not to mention people like Paul and Jesus, of course.
We can see that the test of faith is closely related to risk taking. In taking risks for God, our faith is often challenged. Without the need for risks, we can easily depend on our own experience and expertise. But when God leads us to greater faith, we are venturing new grounds to face uncertainties that our experience and expertise may fail us. We are often “cornered” to just trust and depend on the Lord, period.
If we really want to grow in faith this year, then be prepared for this great adventure. Our reading of God’s Word, prayers and circumstances in our lives would challenge us to make new sacrifices and even take risks for God in new grounds and uncertainties. For some of us, it may be a career switch. For others, it may be forsaking our holidays to do something more meaningful. Some may need to learn to give beyond their means or to serve God in a new ministry. Some may need to take the risk to challenge someone to receive Christ, while some may be taking a yoke of discipleship. In any case, sacrifices must be made to God and risks must be taken as we grow from faith to faith. But just a note of encouragement, there will be no sacrifice too painful or risks too big for us, God’s provision and grace will surely see us through and make us stronger in faith.