n the ranks of Christianity, there are numerous phrases we hear so frequently that we can finish them when prompted. Fill in the blanks: What would _____ _____? God works in _____ _____. We are living in the ____ ____. (The answers: Jesus do; mysterious ways; last days)
For these phrases that we know to be true, we still may wrestle with the process of putting them into practice. The struggle is in finding the balance between theory and the practice—the knowing and the doing.
It is always easier to look at someone else’s life and determine if they have found that balance between the belief and practice. However, it can be a little more difficult to judge ourselves.
Another one of these phrases we hear so often in Christian circles is “living by faith.” As believers, we know we should live by faith, for the Scripture calls us to do so (see Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38). We become adept at encouraging our family and friends to “live by faith” in their situations. But the moment we find ourselves facing a challenging situation, things can get blurry. Exactly how do we live by faith? What does this mean in practical terms? How can we live by faith in a secular and scientific world?
The Bible has a lot to say about faith. Scripture teaches that God has distributed to us all a “measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). The Book of Hebrews defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (11:1) and says “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (v. 6).
Throughout Scripture we are encouraged to grow in our faith, and Romans 10:17 informs us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (NKJV). Our faith rises or grows as we expose our mental and spiritual faculties to God’s Word. In other words, as we become more familiar with God’s Word, we also become more familiar with God’s ways. So then, “living by faith” is actually living by God’s ways.
Faith can be defined as “a belief or confidence in something or someone.” Christian faith is “belief or confidence in the person, power, and providence of God.” In essence, Christian faith is trusting God as our ultimate source, strength, and provider.
Living by faith means operating day in and day out with the understanding and assurance that God is in control of every aspect of our life. Contemporary thinking pressures us toward figuring things out for ourselves and being the master of our own domain. By contrast, living by faith is trusting in the sovereignty of God despite the circumstances surrounding us. In an effort to effectively live this way, it is imperative to keep a couple of foundational truths in mind.
Living Beyond “Me”
Living by faith basically means living beyond ourselves. As we navigate life, with all its twists and turns, we are constantly dealing with a barrage of thoughts, questions, doubts, insecurities, fears, anxieties, and inadequacies. At best, we live with a limited understanding. When we tackle life with only this limited perspective, our days become open season for the enemy of our souls to wreak havoc on the battlegrounds of our mind.
Regardless of the scenario—an uncertain medical situation, a crumbling relationship, the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one—human nature conditions us to attempt to figure things out for ourselves. When things do not add up, or we cannot see a way out of the situation, fear rises and faith vanishes. This marks the beginning of a dangerous downward spiral where we no longer live by faith, but rather react to the circumstances around us.
To combat this natural tendency toward self-trust, Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV). We are to do the opposite of what the world conditions us to do.
Living beyond “me” means we realize the need for a higher perspective—God’s perspective. The Lord says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. . . . For as the heavens are higher that the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV).
Whereas our perspective is limited and skewed, His perspective is full and focused. When we experience life through trust in the all-powerful, all-knowing God, we are able to be hopeful about our tomorrows.
Many people might read this and think, This may pertain to some people and what they are going through, but things in my life are all going well.
Even though we may not currently be dealing with major issues, things can change in an instant. Any of us could be one doctor’s report away from our life turning upside-down, or one event away from the greatest testing of our faith. As believers, we all should strive to live beyond “me” every day of our lives. Then, when we are blindsided by a trial, we will already be depending on God’s “higher ways.”
Looking Through the Lens of Scripture
The Bible is a wonderful collection of teachings and narratives detailing God’s interaction with humanity. It is encouraging to know most everything we face today can be found within the pages of Scripture. This, coupled with the fact that God is not a respecter of persons, means He can do for us what He has done for others. This revelation allows us to read the accounts within the pages of God’s Word with eager anticipation, knowing God can meet our every need and help us overcome any obstacle. This proves instrumental in helping us “live by faith,” for we know God is for us and on our side. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
When we read that Jesus healed the sick, we can proclaim He is our healer. When we read how Jesus had compassion for people and forgave them, we are immediately drawn to Him as loving Savior. When we read about Jesus calming a storm, we have faith that can say, “Peace, be still” over the storms in our lives.
Even though we live in a secular, scientific world, living by faith is possible when we endeavor to know God’s Word to the point of learning His ways. Once we realize our limited perspective in life is insufficient, then we can begin living beyond “me” to the point of seeking His higher perspective. “Living by faith” is also maximized as we learn to view our reality through the lens of Scripture. Exploring the Bible opens us up to a wealth of possibilities of the things God has already provided for us.
There is a realm of purpose and destiny God has for every believer that will only be discovered when we live by faith rather than allowing the circumstances and situations of life to govern us. Let’s be bold and daring as we endeavor to be a living example of what it means to live by faith in God and His Word.
December 29, 2017, is a day forever etched in the minds of our family. My wife, Rita, had a seizure that day for the first time in her life. After a trip to the emergency room and an overnight stay in the hospital, the doctors had no idea what caused it. We followed up with a neurologist, but three months later she had her second seizure. A month beyond that, the seizure count was up to 17.
At the time of this writing, the doctors still do not know the cause of the seizures. Although we are thankful for medical science and medical professionals, our family is living by faith every day as we stand on God’s Word for complete healing.