Yesterday I devoted myself to gathering with a group of humans at a title 1 elementary school in East Charlotte. A man named Jon asked the group, “How do you grow in faith?” A fanatical man named Paul (a guy who wrote a bunch of letters a long time ago) says that faith does not start or swell by self effort, but rather it is a gift of God. This fellow – Paul – is adamant about the fact that if we should ever lose sight of this primary authoring and perfecting workmanship of God then we would be lost to our own arrogance and pompous boasting. This guy, Paul, would answer Jon’s question – How do you grow in faith? – by simply saying “God!” Speaking to a group of Jesus-addicted people in a place called Thessalonica, Paul says, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.” Perhaps you will choose to sneer at this citation saying, “But that Pauline quotation is explicitly referring to love …it doesn’t say anything about ‘faith’.” If you choose to sneer, please heed this warning – – – > stop being so disparaging and uncharitable …you are making yourself miserable. Moreover, that guy Paul says that there is an intimate, and indivisible, connection between faith and love. For instance, in a letter written to a group of people in a place called Galatia, Paul says, “What counts is faith working through love.”
So …GOD is the answer. God Himself, when He was physically/tangibly dwelling with us on planet earth said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” That is certainly helpful and clarifying; nonetheless I am inclined to ask, “Is there anything else God would be pleased to tell us about His plan for authoring and perfecting faith and love in us?” God’s servant/steward – that guy Paul we keep referencing – said something to the Jesus-addicted group in Thessalonica that provides some additional detail regarding God’s particular tactics for developing faith in us. Paul said, “We pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith.” That is very helpful and clarifying as well! God’s ultimate authorship is foundational, and this revelation about faith being further supplied via the in-person-presence of fellow disciples provides us with a specific framework for understanding, and participating in, the construction of faith! So here’s a very simple, immediately applicable, question for all of us who yearn to grow in faith, “Who do I need to get face-to-face with this week in order that they may supply what is lacking in my faith?”
We can plead with God to author and perfect our faith, and by His grace and mercy we can be made authentically receptive to His workmanship in and through our lives. We can invite people to be with us in person to supply what is lacking in our faith, and/or accept their intrusions into our idolatrous world of privacy …allowing them to encroach on our self-serving preference to be left alone to wallow in our individualistic consumeristic isolation (i.e. Netflix). By the grace of God we can hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for God is committed to fulfilling His promises of perseverance! We can be thoughtful and persistent in our efforts to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as we see the Day drawing near!
But what else? …Well, I do believe there is at least one more particular way we can definitively strive, in reliance upon the Holy Spirit, to grow in faith. We can make incredibly costly, seemingly reckless, decisions! Perhaps you are familiar with The Hall of Faith [Hebrews 11]? You can scan, or study in detail, the entire chapter at your leisure, but I will here and now remind us of my favorite section of that chapter in God’s inerrant Word – – – > By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith, Moses made a seemingly reckless and extraordinarily costly choice; and this – I believe – massively advanced his growth in faith!
When Holy Spirit inhabited people commit themselves to a costly Christ-centered cause – they grow in faith!
Moses chose to be with the people of God! This devoting of himself to the gathering (Heb. 10:25) supplied what was lacking in his faith. And it certainly wasn’t because the people were mature, loyal, and courageous (see Numbers 13 & 14). It wasn’t because the people trusted God with what was most precious to them (e.g. their children …see Numbers 14:3, 31, 33). It was simply the fact that THESE PEOPLE were the chosen, holy, treasured possession of Yahweh Himself!
Moses chose to be mistreated (see Hebrews 11 [#blessed …#Matthew 5:3-11]; and see Numbers 11-21), and in this way – the Lord answered Moses’ prayers for grace and increased faith! (see John Newton’s hymn I Asked The Lord).