Something hit me last night, while I was listening to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Something I had read myself many times, yet had never thought about it like I did last night.
It concerns the subject of faith. Specifically, faith in God.
Most of us are aware of the following verse:
“But without faith it’s impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
And so we do our best to please Him by doing our part; believing He is, and believing He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
This works for a while, but when we fail to see the rewards we wonder if we’re not as diligent as we should or could be.
Does this sound familiar?
It does to me. It also makes me wonder if we’re working for, or somehow trying to earn our “rewards”.
If so, what happened to faith?
What is the focus of our faith? The rewards? The promises, which in Christ are yes and amen? Or is our focus the Lord Himself?
What pleases Him? That we believe He is, OR that we believe He diligently rewards those who seek Him?
Are we missing something?
While it’s true He loves to answer prayer, and care for us beyond our wildest imagination, there’s a lot more to faith than the rewards; if by “rewards” we mean things WE want, need, hope for, etc.
HE is our reward!
It’s what He said to Abram (Abraham), the father of faith, the friend of God.
“…Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” (Genesis 15:1 NKJV)
There’s a little test we can take that may give us an indication of our true focus. It’s what hit me in a new way last night.
“Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
“And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” (Hebrews 11:35-40 NKJV)
The test? How do we act when God doesn’t seem to “come through” like we believed He would?
The writer had just finished listing all the different rewards (promises and actions) people had received and accomplished through faith. Hallelujah!
But then, like a thunderstorm moving in on a Thanksgiving Day parade, he ruined everything by telling about the ones who DIDN’T get the goodies from God! Didn’t he realize he’d never sell many books by being so negative? And why would he be so cruel as to chop our faith down to nothing after building it up like he had?
Or was he trying to tell us something about real faith?
I think so.
If we ONLY believe God blesses by giving us the rewards we want, or as long as He answers within our time frame, are we really believing God? And can we believe He is and yet doubt He’ll do what He said?
If we only believe when our prayers are answered in the way we want and expect, does that mean we’re walking by faith, or are we walking according to what we see happening around us?
“…for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:7-10 ESV)
What is our aim? To please Him, period? Or to please Him as He pleases us?
I seriously doubt any of the heroes of faith wanted to be sawn in two, stoned, tempted, mocked, or scourged. Yet there they are, listed with the rest of God’s heroes; those who pleased Him with their faith.
So why were the “failures of faith”, those who didn’t “receive” as others did, listed in Hebrews 11? Because they believed God IS, and He IS the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!
They got their reward. They got Him!
Don’t take things the wrong way, please. I’m not saying we should forget His promises, and sing the old Doris Day song, “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see, Que sera, sera.” No.
But maybe, just maybe, we could borrow part of the song; “the future’s not ours to see”.
Believing HE IS takes care of our past, present, and future. Whether He says anything or not, He IS.
He is pleased by our faith, but He doesn’t reward us because He’s pleased. He rewards us because HE IS.
For He who comes to God must believe that He IS, and that He IS the rewarder of those who diligently seek HIM.
Once again, HE is who we diligently, intentionally, and singularly pursue. In other words, our faith isn’t in any person (other than God), place, or thing. And that’s pleasing to the Lord.
As believers, children of God, heirs of God and joint heirs with His Son Jesus Christ, God has given us EVERYTHING that pertains to life and godliness, through His exceeding great and precious promises (2 Peter 1).
All of that comes with believing He IS.
Let’s keep our faith focused on the Author and Finisher of our faith, rather than what He’s done for us today.
Let’s keep the main thing, the main thing. Whether our world is falling apart, or we’re riding on top of the world, God IS.
And when it’s all said and done, there is and will always be, our God and Savior!