Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How Do We Increase Our Faith?

Have you ever tried to increase your faith?  You know you're saved, but some days, you just don't feel it.  You know in your heart that you should trust God in all things, yet when trials come along, you find yourself repeatedly taking things into your own hands.  You watch other heroes of the faith as they walk through life with their heads held high, holding securely to God's hand and think, I want that.  So what do you do?

If you're like me, you try to muster up more faith like you would muster up courage.  You try to force it upon yourself by any means necessary:  spending more time with God, reading spiritual books, praying, telling yourself over and over again, "No, I'm not going to worry.  I'm going to trust God."  And, friend, if you're anything like me, you've discovered that it doesn't work.  We can't create faith in ourselves any more than we could create a flower or a rainbow.  We don't have that kind of power.  We didn't work for the faith required for salvation, so why do we think we can work for the faith needed for everyday living?  It just doesn't make sense.

Here's the irony:  we know that!  We know that faith comes from God.  The Bible tells us so.  Ephesians 2:8 says, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.  Faith is not of ourselves.  It is a gift of God.  It's not something we muster up; it's something we accept.  Hebrews 12:2 reminds us of the same thing by telling us that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.  It is under His control, not ours.  The disciples must have understood this as well because in Luke 17:5, they asked Jesus, Increase our faith.  Notice they didn't ask Him to teach them to increase their faith.  They knew it was beyond them.  And Paul concurs in II Corinthians 10 when he says, Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,  "When your faith is increased," not when you increase your faith.  The situation is passive, not active which means that it's not attainable by any works.

So if we can't muster up or work for more faith, how do we reach our goal of increasing our faith?  After all, the Bible says that without faith, it is impossible to please God.  We want to please our heavenly Father, so how do we attain the faith to do so?  We receive it.  It is a gift, after all, and what good is a gift if it is given but not received?  Just like salvation, we acknowledge to God that we cannot do this on our own, and we accept His gift of faith, allowing Him to increase it at His will.  The more we surrender our lives to Him and stop trying to fix and control everything ourselves, the more faith we'll receive.

The key to having more faith is to stop trying so hard to have more faith and to allow Jesus to work in and through us.  We must understand our limitations and surrender our lives to the limitless God.  Then, and only then, will we see an increase in our faith.  We've all heard the motto, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."  Well, in this case, throw that out the window and recite this new saying, "If at first you don't succeed, realize that you can't and accept help from the One who can."  Not quite as catchy, but far more accurate in the acquisition of faith.

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