'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
There are many ways to define and evaluate what is described as faith - great, little, selective, momentary, abiding, general, specific - each a gift of a measure of faith by grace for the time ("you will tread upon serpents", "drink deadly things", etc.). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, Peter had faith without doubt and this must have pleased Jesus. Peter gave up for Jesus all he was, and all he had at the time (Matthew 14:28-31)! However, temporary great faith suddenly became little. For that moment, and for that time and for that setting he had a fullness of faith. But, at another time (a few moments later), and for other moments, he had little or none. Upon other waters he could not walk.
One may have near perfect faith for one circumstance, and little or none for another. Our faith is often fluid, rising and falling like the waves of the sea. There are degrees of faith at a given time. So there can be "little faith". Jesus did not say Peter had no faith, for he had faith enough to walk on the water, but only for a little while. What was going on around him eroded his faith - he began to doubt. Doubt is to faith what water is to a fire. It can extinguish it! And as it was for Peter whose faith was paralized by the around, so can we be.
One person has faith in one area or circumstance of their lives and little in another circumstance. Another could possess strong faith in a similar circumstance. This can cause errors of discernment and lead to faulty opinions about the spiritual condition of another. It is then we should remember Paul’s candid solution to the danger of God’s judgment on some who trivialized the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:28). Faith for living as we strive to walk the walk by faith reminds one of Paul’s analogy of the human body, and the gifts of the grace of God (1 Corinthians 12). Jesus has ascended "and gave gifts to men" (Ephesians 4:7-8). There are differences for different functions, as God apportions to all of His children for the good of all. In many ways, faith works the same. The umbrella for understanding is found in one clear statement by the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 2:8). Now we can understand the distribution of gifts in the body of Christ, one of which is the gift of faith by the same Spirit. Immediately after explaining the gifts of the Spirit, in 1 Corinthians 13 he narrows the gifts to just the "more excellent" three - faith, hope, and love. Just as faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit, it is also multifunctional according to the direction of the same Spirit. Peter for the special occasion on the sea was given the faith to walk toward Jesus on the sea. Again, doubt is the deadly enemy of faith (James 1:6-7).
All of us must walk on the waters - with all its foaming and tossing of waves, and the threatening roar of this restless ocean of unpredictability. In all the ups and downs of life, there is always a response required. A ship tosses on the ocean swells. It has no choice. It must respond. So it is with those of us who strive to walk “by faith”. And even as a storm-tossed ship on the sea, and as Peter responded in the waters of that time when Jesus said “Come!”, so we also must respond. Our response is what James called “works”. How we respond - our works - reflects the strength or weakness of our faith. If there are no works, there is no faith, practically speaking (James 2:14-19). Faith is much like the body also, in that muscles are strengthened through use, the counter pressure of working against them, strengthens them more and they become stronger. So faith is strengthened incrementally. Sometimes - as with Peter - there are setbacks and bitter disappointments. Many times the question that Jesus asked Peter rings in my mind - “why did you doubt?“ and His assessment, “you of little faith!“. But even in the disappointment is the reality of strengthening of faith. As time went by, Peter did not give up on faith, because Jesus never gave up on him. All grow at a different rate. Even in nature, the same species of plant which may seem identical when planted in the soil, will grow and develop at a different rate. But the result is the same - maturity, and fruit (Matthew 13:23).
Since faith is a gift, God will never call upon you to act in some way without giving you the faith for it - if you ask without doubting. Doubt is the instrument of Satan. The very first assault in any situation will be upon our faith. In any situation where obedience and right actions are called for, faith is also called for. Satan’s response is automatic - cast a doubt! A faith without doubt is perfect faith. And perfect faith comes slowly, and will finally only become a reality at the resurrection.
In our every venture of faith, Jesus will always say “Come!...”. Always continue to respond to Him, even if there are many times that He must lift you up from the waters of failed faithfulness, and you hear “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus will never give up on us, if we never give up on Him. Every child of God is given many different waters to walk on. Many times we may begin to sink. The roaring lion of doubt is always near (1 Peter 5:8). But the Lyon of the tribe of Judah is always there (Hosea 5:14), with His hand outstretched. Faith always works through love that is the greatest of the three great gifts of the Spirit. Faith works in proportion to love (Galatians 5:6). So we must constantly check our "love quotient" to gage our potential for stronger faith for times ahead of us. Then hope will sooth our fears as we navigate through the troubled waters (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Abraham was “strong in faith” when he offered Isaac. No wonder he is called the “father of the faithful”! He failed in faith many times - like Peter - but he continued to grow in faith for many, many years before he unquestioningly sacrificed his only son Isaac. At his death, he was as near to perfect faith as is possible in the flesh. He and Peter, and many others, have come to that point of spiritual maturity that Oswald Chambers called “reckless abandonment to God” in perfect faith. When all of life has been said and done, it comes down to how much we love - how we love Jesus, how close we are to Him, and how we have loved each other. .Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him - three times. That was the measure of faith for his walking on many waters to come - and he did.
So can we walk on our "waters". It is just a matter of time, hope, and love...
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” - Luke 22:31-32
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