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Building ourselves up
- Jacob Ninan
The disciples asked Jesus at one time, "Lord, increase our faith" (Lk.17:5). They made the common mistake of assuming that while we continue in our weaknesses, failings, doubts, unbelief, etc., it is up to God to take care of us. Instead of judging themselves for not having proper faith in Jesus, repenting, and setting things right by deciding to trust Him in future, they felt in effect that God should do all the hard work for them! There is a place for acknowledging our helplessness before the Lord and asking Him to do what is impossible for us. But prayer is not an excuse for inaction.
God tells us to build ourselves up in the most holy faith (Jude.20). This is in direct opposition to just praying for faith. If God has opened our eyes and revealed Himself to us as a trustworthy person, then it is up to us to trust in Him. We can't trust God and at the same time doubt if He will keep His word; or wonder if what He says in His word actually happened; or debate in our mind if He will ditch us when the going gets tough. We are tempted by such thoughts now and then. At such times we keep our faith by reaffirming what He has said.
We cannot trust God and yet question what He has said. If we have doubts about the authenticity of the Bible or its inspiration, we will be left with nothing reliable enough to hold on to in life. If we think of the Bible as merely a good book with lots of good things in it, and not as God's own word given to us, we will not have any faith that will sustain us in dark times. So it goes without saying that if we would like to have stronger faith, we must have God's word as a solid anchor in our life which will hold us from getting tossed to and fro, and as a fortress to which we can run for safety at any time (Ro.10:17).
Once we have laid this foundation stone, we can build further up in faith. When we read in the Bible how God took care of those who trusted Him, did miracles to meet their needs and kept His promises to them, our own faith begins to become stronger. When we read and listen to testimonies of present day people who have experienced the reality of God in different ways, we begin to expect that if God did such things for others, He can do them for us too. Finally we begin to experience God's touch in our own life, meeting our needs, keeping His promises and even working through us to meet with others around us. In this way we build up our faith by taking steps that will increase our faith.
On the contrary what will happen to those who just keep waiting passively for things to go better? They miss the things they could have experienced if only they had trusted in God, but they did nothing to build up their faith. Finally they conclude that God's promises don't really work!
There is a clear promise of God to those who wait on Him that they will never be put to shame (Is.49:23). But it is those who trust in Him who will wait for Him, and it is those who seek Him with all their heart who will find Him (Je.29:13).