Seven years ago, the pastor and youth group were walking around the church asking congregants what they thought faith was, video recording responses. As a new church goer, my immediate reply was simple, yet scriptural, “Hebrews chapter 11,” I said. This appeared to stun the pastor as all other responses were more wordy and explanatory, but even back then, when I wasn’t in my Bible daily, it so happened that the definition of faith that I had read in the past had stuck with me. Not only the first verse in that chapter, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” but the entirety of the chapter as the author who penned Hebrews expounded on the “ancients” and what actions their faith led them to do.
My faith, although never doubted, was rarely an initiator for action; on the contrary, it was my pride that seemed to drive most of my inaction in regards to my faith. Years passed where I’d make decisions, not to glorify God, but to satisfy my own version of what I believed my self to be. Much has changed the last five years, and I’d like to offer a more in depth answer to what I believe the Bible defines faith as. This time, not to be recorded and shown during a church service, but a written account to be shared with the church universal.
- F – FOCUS ~ “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Where is our focus? Our answer is telling as to what we treasure in life. When God is our focus, all else fades and the meaning of life falls neatly into place.
- A – ATTENTION ~ “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Who has our attention? In our overall duty-filled days, whose affection and/or attention are our deeds consumed by? When we set our sights on paying Him our dues in our duties, prioritizing His approval above any other, the reward is a clear conscience towards God and amongst man.
- I – IMMOBILITY ~ “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). To what depth do we realize the truth Jesus spoke here? We cannot move in any direction worth moving without Him. Our lives are fruitless, frantic, fearful, and proverbially paralyzed if we’re not grounded by the Source that feeds our souls.
- T – TESTING ~ “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2). Neglecting the first three points above will certainly bring us trouble when these trials, foreordained by God, present in our lives. Will we cry out to God with a heart seeped in a victim mentality, or cry out to Him for His mercy, seeking desperately to learn what He is teaching us through these tests? This is, perhaps, the touchiest aspect of our faith, to find joy in the midst of trial; however, we ought to wholeheartedly accept what James shares and trust that our perseverance will be blessed (James 1:12).
- H – HOPE ~ “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine” (Psalm 33:18-19). Here we come full circle, back to the hope that we read about in Hebrews 11:1, “…being sure of what we hope for…” This is where we find that faith is truly a gift from God, because to hold His truths in our hearts, not letting them go, is supernatural. Have we become numb? Lost hope, or feel it slipping away, due to circumstances beyond our understanding? There’s no better timing to revisit, refresh, and revitalize our hearts, souls, and minds with what faith is; although the timing is always now, regardless of our feelings barometers because storing God’s Word consistently keeps our pride in check.
By now, you may be wondering why I’ve titled this post with an inaccurate count of letters for the word faith. This is because faith finds its root in the four lettered word: love. Paul unpacks the definition of love in the infamous passage, 1 Corinthians 13, bringing it home with the last verse, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (v. 13).
We’ve covered what faith and hope are, but love has been saved for last. I’ll not spell out bulletpoints for this, but instead return to the simplicity of Scripture for an answer. Aside from Paul’s detailed description of what love entails, Jesus sums up what we are to do with this love most supremely when His answer to which is the most important commandment: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31). Although these words aren’t a formula for figuring out how to act on our call to love, God hasn’t left us in the dark. Perhaps instead of cherry picking verses for reference to use as replies to those who ask, we ought to immerse ourselves in Scripture as a whole as we ask what it looks like to love and be loved, to have and grow faith, to hold on to hope; be assured, this wisdom will be granted (James 1:5-6). He promises. Do we believe?