“Without faith it’s impossible to please God.” So says the oft’ quoted Hebrews 11:6. What do you understand that to mean? I am convinced that some of us understand faith, at least to a degree, to be something I need to achieve or accomplish. “I’ve got to have more faith”; “if only I had enough faith.” And we take the same understanding to Ephesians 2:8 “it is by grace you have been saved through faith.” We tend to look at faith as if it were something we manufacture, and by which we make God approve of us. Let me give two illustrations to help grasp what faith really is.
The Bible compares the covenant relationship of marriage to our relationship with Jesus for good reason. When a couple gives their vows they act on the basis of what they have been convinced of, a belief. What belief? Simply this: “I believe you. I believe that you will love me and be faithful to me for the rest of my life. I believe that you will care for me, provide for my needs, cherish and honor me. I believe you. And on the basis of that belief I give you the rest of my life.”
Salvation is simply declaring what I have become convinced of: “Jesus I believe you. I believe you are the Son of God. I believe that you loved me and gave yourself for me. I believe that in doing so you forgave my sin. I believe that you will care for me and be faithful to me for all eternity. And on the basis of that belief I give you my life.”
The belief, or faith, isn’t what earns me God’s grace, it’s simply, well, believing God has provided it. But even after we believe, something inside of many of us keeps telling us that we still need to achieve or keep doing something to continue to hold God’s approval. That’s a lie.
Look at it like this. When a baby is learning to walk and takes her first faltering steps, we cheer. But then when inevitably she falls we don’t disapprove of her, we help her up and celebrate the next steps. Her value doesn’t increase or diminish because of her achievements or lack thereof. She is valued for who she is; our child. The parallel is obvious.
One more thing, celebrating achievements is important, but if that’s the primary means we express the value of others to us we’re subtly sending the wrong message. Today make sure others, especially your children, hear from you that they are treasured for who they are, not their achievements.