Friday, May 8, 2009

When is Faith not Enough?

I read something a couple of days ago that really challenged me:
And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Now... I've read that a thousand times before... okay, so I'm a little prone to exaggeration. :) The point is, the verse wasn't really anything new to me. But then I read the Expositor's Commentary on it:

Notice that the author lays it down with the greatest of emphasis that faith is absolutely necessary. He does not say simply that without faith it is difficult to please God; he says that without faith it is impossible to please him! There is no substitute for faith. He goes on to lay down two things required in the worshiper.... First, he must believe that God exists. This is basic. Without it there is no possibility of faith at all.
But it is not enough of itself.  After all, the demons can know that sort of faith (James 2:19). There must also be a conviction about God's moral character, belief "that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." ...We must believe, not only that God exists, but also that God cares. Without that deep conviction, faith in the biblical sense is not a possibility. (emphasis is mine)
Wow. I guess I never really thought about the 2nd part of that verse... to realize... faith that God exists is not enough. I mean... I knew there was more to it than that... but to have this last part thrown in my face... that we must believe that "he rewards those who earnestly seek him..." to believe "not only that God exists, but that God cares..." really gave me something to think about.

If you asked me if I believed God cares and rewards those who earnestly seek Him, I'd probably say "Sure I do!" But... does my life really reflect that? What about the times I "hope" He answers a prayer the way I want it answered... and maybe fear just a little that He won't? Does that not reflect a deeply hidden belief that I must know better than God... or... since I say I believe He is all-knowing... that I don't really believe He wants what's best for me? If I believed He cared, wouldn't I have a bit more trust at times? Would I be as likely to go my own way those times that His answer isn't what I wanted to hear? (I'm not the only one that occasionally does that, am I?)

Don't those kinds of reactions show just a little bit of a lack of faith??? Don't they show just a little bit of disbelief that He cares??? Don't they hint that while I believe He exists, maybe I don't entirely believe my welfare is at the center of His heart? To be honest, I struggle with that at times. Some events several years ago make it easy for me to believe that sometimes the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. In my head, I know that's a fallacy... but in my heart? I'm not so sure my life always reflects that I really believe what God wants for me is the best for me. Otherwise... why would I kick and scream and drag my feet at times?

And without that kind of faith... 

"Without that deep conviction... in the biblical sense is not a possibility."

Without faith... it is impossible to please God.

Wow. Eye-opener. That one's worth some thought!


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