Today we have a guest post from Peace Tree friend, Brother Tim. To read all of his work please visit him at Blog of Revelation!
Evaluating one's faith should be a daily, on-going process.
What is Faith?
Like the wind -- You can feel it and see it's effects, like a tumbleweed rolling across the desert or the awesome power of a hurricane; but you can't physically see it. God, as well as faith in Him, is invisible to our fleshly, carnal eyes. But through the eyes of Jesus, these things are made manifest to us. The Bible tells us that faith is a 'gift' (1Cor 12:9) or 'fruit' (Gal 5:22) of the Spirit. 1Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
The seed of faith is planted by prevenient grace. John Wesley spent a great deal of time, preaching, and writing about, prevenient grace. This is the initial form of grace, given by God, to all people, at birth. It is that need, or longing, deep inside us, that compels us to seek a higher power. God, Allah, YHWH, El Shaddai, Jesus---- Call Him what you will, it's the same entity. It's that insatiable quest for the meaning of life. It's been going on since the beginning of time, and will continue until time is no more.
Faith is not a black or white concept, as in, 'you either have it or you don't'. Everyone has it; it is hard-wired into our very being, whether we deny it or not. It is at what degree or stage it's at, that is the relevant issue. Some seeds are still in the seed-bag, some are in the ground being watered, some have sprouted to various stages of development, and some are ready for the harvest.
No one is perfect. Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. We will never be perfect in these earthly bodies. We can only expect to reach perfection when our spirits are one with God. However, we must never cease at striving towards perfection.
Developing faith is like building a house. You start by laying a cornerstone, or foundation, then proceed on to framing, roofing, wiring, finishing, and ultimately, furnishing. We should view our faith in the same light --- A work in progress! I, personally, do not want to go before God, with only a foundation or partially framed house, and expect Him to finish it for me. Rather, I would like my house completed and furnished; so He has only a little re-arranging of the furniture to bring it to perfection. This is love. Doing what you can, to lighten the burdens of those you love. Why would God deserve anything less? After all, He is the one I love the most.
That is why we need evaluation. Evaluation of one's faith is the deepest and, oft times, hardest form of self-examination. As the old saw says, "The easiest person to deceive, is that person staring back at you in the mirror". We can always find, and convince ourselves, of a justification for our actions, as well as our inactions.
The farmer plants his seeds, then waters, fertilizes, cultivates, and watches over them; with the final goal being the harvest. He doesn't sow his seed, ignore them all season, and then return, expecting a bountiful harvest. He watches over them daily, making adjustments, to insure a successful crop.
So too, it should be with our faith. Constantly evaluating it; feeding, nurturing, making the necessary adjustments, as we press on to perfection. Faith will not grow and blossom on it's own. It needs constant loving care. Have you ever noticed that the people with the strongest faith are those that act, work, and think about it routinely and steadfastly? You can't (or shouldn't) keep your faith in the closet, only to bring it out every Easter or Christmas. It needs to be exercised daily, or it becomes flaccid and weak.
Jesus stressed two commandments in Matthew 22:37-40: The first, Love God, and the second, Love thy neighbour as thyself. He said, on those two commandments, 'hang all the law'. It is a very basic and simple concept. Adhering to these two principles, will violate NO laws, neither God's, nor man's.
So I would exhort everyone to nourish your faith, and treasure it. It is the most valuable thing you possess. Spend as much time worrying about your faith, as you spend on worrying about your finances. I can assure you, your rewards will be plentiful. There is no speed limit on the Highway to Heaven.