Hello friends near and far!
I have been gifted (thanks, Angela!) the glorious opportunity to share about the need to exercise our faith. This is hilarious for two reasons:
- 1) The word exercise makes me laugh! The only reason I exercise my body, is to make fun of myself! Don’t get me wrong! I do exercise and I kind of like it (love the feeling of sore muscles when you wake up the next day!) but I’m pretty dang bad at it… uncoordinated, no endurance, happily lazy (no guilt here!), and downright whiny when I’m uncomfortable!
- 2) Yall, I get lost in big ideas *so* easily. I LOVE studying them and thinking about them, but the thought of making sense of a big idea enough to publish something so that others actually understand what I’m saying… AHAHAHAHAHAH! That’s just dang funny. However, I am increasingly passionate about putting my feet to the ground because “faith without works is dead,” right? So, here we go!!
If you want to quickly fall down Alice’s rabbit hole, start thinking about and doing research on the word “faith”. Yes, this piece of common vernacular may make it’s way into our everyday conversations, but upon examination, it is incredibly profound, quite abstract, and even a little bit overwhelming.
Scripture tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 1:11).
Look up the word “faith” in the dictionary and you’ll find something along the lines of:
1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something
2. strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. [emphasis mine]
In the Greek, this word is
Have you been born of God? ((Yes.))
Then you have faith gifted of God.
And if you have faith gifted of God,
you are enabled to know God’s will and you will carry off the victory from this world.
Yes you will battle, but you have been assured triumph.
And by what means will you carry off this victory?
Beloved, your FAITH. (1 John 5:4)
The prized shield of protection, made to your exact size and need, solely for you, crafted by our victorious King, Creator, and Sustainer (Ephesians 6:16).
But wait, let’s go back a few steps! For, what use is a shield if we never have to raise that shield in defense? Before we saunter off in victory guaranteed, we must battle.
Every breath we draw. My will or his? Battle.
Every conversation, text thread, interaction with those around us. My way or his? Battle.
Every drive we take, trip to the market, opportunity missed. Trust myself or trust him? Battle.
Every piece of unexpected news, reactionary response. My chaos or his order? Battle.
Every thought, every motivation, every desire, every decision. My laziness or his intentionality? Battle.
Friends, this makes us warriors.
And warriors are able to rise to the occasion because they are called (by faith) and are equipped to do so.
We know that hearing the Gospel increases faith within us…
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
We know that the faith residing inside us is a gift, and is of nothing that we’ve done…
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8-9
We know that faith produces love – deep, profound love of the Savior and otherworldly love for other image bearers…
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love… For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:6,13
We know that love generates consequence in our lives – ie the fruit of good works (boots on the ground as the hands and feet of Jesus)…
What good is it… if someone has faith but does not have works?… If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17
It begins with and thrives within the gospel which changes every single thing in our lives; we cannot outgrow the the gospel.
So how do we exercise or make use of this free gift of faith? Have you ever heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”? Well, faith is made in hearing the gospel … which is why we must be committed to a relentless pursuit of gospel understanding! How are we submerging ourselves in the gospel daily? From the ultimate source – the holy Scriptures themselves? Maybe we preach to ourselves through Scripture mediation/memorization? Perhaps we listen to a podcast of a gospel centered teacher/preacher! Or maybe we are diving deeper into the glories of the gospel by practicing spiritual disciplines! All of these things are good and necessary.
But a great diet does not magically produce muscle! We actually have to DO something to build and grow that which we are working for!
Since we know that we cannot JUST be hearers of the gospel, we must be doers of it (James 1:22-25)… and since we know that faith produces love… then love is our movement.
Love, a fruit of the Spirit, cannot be manufactured, forced, or increased by will… it is a gift grown by way of life in the gospel (Galatians 5:22).
“What is love? We love other people when we stop using them as means to supply our deficiencies and instead rejoice in the divine enablement to supply their deficiencies. Faith produces this love inevitably because it takes away the barriers to love like guilt and fear and greed. The heart that rests in God’s promises cannot remain guilty, fearful, and greedy. And faith produces this love because it creates a new appetite for the thrill of feeling God show his mercy in and through us. This appetite propels us into the activities where that power flows freest, namely, the activities of love.” – John Piper
We love anyone who holds the title of imago Dei or “image bearer”.
What does love look like?
LOVE IS SERVICE. Becoming a servant to those who deserve our love and those who (perhaps we feel) don’t. Our own Jesus “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…” shows us in humility and great love how to serve others (Philippians 2:1-11).
LOVE IS SACRIFICE. To follow the command of God incarnate himself and “love one another as I have loved you” ( John 13:34)… to the very edges of the earth, even if that means death, that is the length we must go to love others, because that is exactly the love that was lavished on us.
LOVE IS SEEKING JUSTICE. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12). Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). These instructions from the mouth of Jesus make it quite clear that if I want to be treated with dignity, fairness, equality and respect as an image bearer of God, then my objective as I love my neighbor as myself is to “do justice… love kindness… and walk humbly” with my God (Micah 6:8).
Love is not hugs and kisses, roses and chocolates, butterflies in your tummy, smiles and thoughtfulness.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love,
I am nothing.
If I give away all I have,
and if I deliver up my body to be burned,
but have not love,
I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
So how now shall we exercise that faith? With all our heart, soul, mind, and strength we love the Lord our God; as much as we love ourselves, we turn and love our neighbor (Luke 10:27).
Lindsey is a self-proclaimed walking disaster. She has been married to her high school sweetie pie for 13 years; add in 3 bio babes, + 1 Indian adoption + the lack of even a single domestic bone in her body – and the “walking disaster” part starts to make total sense.
She loves bacon, cowboy boots, rainbow hair, sharing her mess with the world, hispanic culture, INDIA!, spontaneous adventuring sans plans, pickles, travel, religious studies, trying to figure out this whole mama thing, making fun of herself, fighting for people, and being really, reeeally blunt.