I enjoy crafting useful things from scratch. While a teen, I had the opportunity to help a brother in Christ build a log home. Truth-be-told, I didn’t do much building; however, I did have the privilege and the satisfaction of seeing a pile of logs and other various shaped wood be used to craft a beautiful home. I can still remember, as the project was nearing completion, stepping back and looking at what had been completed. I also remember the sore muscles and fatigue that accompanied working that hard to build something so amazing and worthwhile.
As we reflect on the subject of building, I would like to ask, “If you were to list the most important components of your life, what would be in your top five?” No doubt, for many of us, the spiritual development of our families would definitely be at the peak of such a list. While we all appreciate the gravity of the spiritual development of our spouses, children, and grandchildren, I would propose to you that there is something that must precede even this.
“What is it?” you may ask.
Simply put, it’s your OWN faith. If a log home is going to be built to last, the smallest element of the footer must be measured, dug, and poured correctly. If this foundation is off, the house may still be built; however, it will not be as structurally sound as it otherwise could have been. We aren’t merely interested in building the log home. Like the wise man of Matthew chapter 7, we are focused on building the house to stand for a very long time, no matter what storms may come our way.
In like manner, it’s the same way with the spiritual development of your family. If you are going to be in the condition to be able to help guide, direct, encourage, and even correct when the need arises, you must first be willing to look in the mirror and take serious inventory of your own faith. If you discover a superficial faith, a faith lacking real depth, like a home needing repair, you must be willing to commit yourself to building a superior personal faith that will lead, instruct, and outlive you as your legacy is passed from generation to generation. Not only does your eternal destination depend upon your faith, but those leaving little footprints and little handprints behind you are looking for someone to show them what true, genuine, God honoring faith looks like.
But how do we go about building a superior faith?
First, we must understand, from a biblical view, that our faith really can be increased beyond where it is today. Of course when we say this, we aren’t talking about “the faith” (1 Tim. 4:6), meaning the doctrine delivered by God to men. This objective usage of faith is set and final. God has decided what this “faith” is, so you and I do not have the right nor the ability to change or build this. When we say “faith can be increased”, we are then talking about the subjective concept of faith – your faith and my faith (2 Thess. 1:3). It’s this faith, the Bible will at times describe as:
- Little (Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31)
- Great (Matt. 8:10; 15:28)
- An Encouragement Tool (Rom. 1:12)
- Able to be Weakened (Rom. 4:19)
- Able to Strengthen (Rom. 4:20)
- Accompanied with Obedience (Rom. 16:26)
- Worthless (1 Cor. 15:17)
- Able to Grow (2 Cor. 10:15)
- Able to be Lacking (1 Thess. 3:10)
- Able to be Enlarged (2 Thess. 1:3)
- Able to be Shipwrecked (1 Tim. 1:19)
- Able to be Pursued (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22)
- Able to be Upset (2 Tim. 2:18)
- Able to be Imitated (Heb. 13:7)
- Able to be Tested (James 1:3)
- To be Accompanied by Work (James 2:17,18)
With this vast description, one can only logically conclude that subjective faith can fluctuate, thus either growing stronger and more solid or weaker and susceptible to crumbling under the first sign of pressure. So, like the apostles in Luke 17:5, today we cry out “Increase our faith!” as we beg the question, “How can I build a superior faith?” We long for a faith that marvels our Lord and Savior like that of the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13, and the good news is, we can have that same faith.
Three Steps to a Superior Faith:
Step One: Read God’s Word.
If we are going to build a superior faith that is rooted and established in Christ (Col. 2:5-7), we must first go to the source of where God says this kind of faith will be developed. In Romans 10:17, the apostle Paul defines this source when he writes, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” This makes complete and logical sense when we stop to consider all we learn through the reading of the Word.
It’s through this diligent study of God’s Word that we learn of God’s nature, His enduring promises, and His long suffering toward His covenant people. We see the love He has for humanity poured out as He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to live and die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). We come to better understand what faith looks like as we read and consider those like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and Moses. When we see the drive and commitment of those simply described as “men of whom the world was not worthy (Heb. 11:38)”, we come to understand what true, dedicated, devoted faith looks like in real life. It’s through the Scriptures we learn of salvation and grace. We come to see the importance of the obedience of faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:26) and how our response to the Gospel is important to receiving God’s saving grace, and we also see what happens when individuals turn their backs on the will of God. It’s because of all this we learn, and the countless other lessons and illustrations that could be mentioned but space doesn’t allow, that I tell you, the first step in growing a superior faith begins with God’s Word. After all, if I don’t begin here, what is my faith truly based upon?
Step Two: Put It Into Practice.
There have been times in my life where I knew what I needed to do to become better at a sport. I knew the stronger I was the easier it would be to compete against the guy across the line from me. I knew the quicker man would win 9 times out of 10 and that my technique really made a huge difference. However, I can tell you, simply knowing something doesn’t always mean you put it into practice. It’s like knowing I shouldn’t eat the entire carton of ice cream because it’s not good for me, and then realizing at the end of the night that there wasn’t enough left to even bother with putting it in the freezer. Simply knowing something to be true isn’t enough. You and I must be willing to act on what we know, and the only way that’s going to happen is if we are convicted in what we know.
By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, James wrote this same instruction when he penned, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (James 1:22-24). It’s the actual doing that demonstrates whether or not you truly believe in the knowledge you have. This is what separates those who talk about Jesus from those who walk with Him. It’s this quality that caused Daniel to pray even after knowing the decree had been signed prohibiting prayer to any other god other than Darius (Dan. 6:10). It was the acting upon knowledge that propelled the friends of the paralytic in Luke chapter 5 to remove the tiles from the roof and lower their friend down to be healed by Jesus (Luke 5:18-25).
It needs to be said that just because one acts upon the knowledge they have, doesn’t mean the immediate result will be pleasant. The Christians we read of in the New Testament understood this very well, but even they needed to be reminded that passing through the fire only makes one stronger. Peter, in 1 Peter 1:7, reminds us of this when he write, “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The truth is, when we act upon the Word, we express our faith that God exist, His Word is trustworthy, and we believe the eternal reward is completely worth whatever “fire” we go through here on the earth.
Step Three: Test and See God Come Through
When pursuing my undergraduate degree in Science, we were taught the value of testing statements of truth to see if they would hold up. Experiment after experiment, the ideas would fall apart; however, not every one crumbled. There were a few that stood up to be accurate no matter what the conditions. These were then tested and proven, so we recorded as fact.
Testing is a natural tendency for humans. We want to know if people are trust-worthy and statements are reliable. Before we step out, we want to know the surface we are about to place all our weight on will hold us. It’s for this reason, God would encourage His covenant people to test Him in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this…if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” This passage is not violating Luke 4:12. Rather what we learn from Malachi is that God dares us to trust Him enough to place Him first in every area of our lives. Step out, trusting that He, being the surface that holds up us and sustains us, is more than capable bearing our weight. He did it with Noah, Joseph, Peter, and Paul, and He can and will fulfill every promise He’s made you to you and I through His Word.
It’s then, with this principle and foundation laid before us, we need to truly take to heart the words of James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We can consider it joy when we encounter trails because God has promised that He’s going to care for each of us in a manner that exceeds the care He provides for the lilies of the fields (Luke 12:27). He knows what we need even before we ask (Matt. 6:8), and He expects those who walk by faith and not by sight to trust He and His Word.
When I think back to that season in my life when I helped the brother build the log home, I can’t help but smile. The satisfaction of seeing loose logs and wood be put together in such a way that a beautiful home is created is something to ponder. To be able to go back there and see the house still standing after all this time would be a huge honor and bring great joy. When I think of building a superior faith, I smile as well because I see a legacy that far outlives each of us. I see a long line of attempts and failures; however, I also see a lot of successes as we allow ourselves to go through the fires this life brings. That’s why this subject is so valuable. It’s not only for your benefit that you build a superior faith, but it’s for the benefit of those who observe you and walk behind you. I pray we never forget the words of the apostle Paul as he writes to the Christians in Corinth when we records, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). May it be said of each one of us, that in life, we learned to faithfully follow Jesus, and that those who come behind us, can see our footprints in step with those of Jesus Christ.