|I will trust You!! Psalm 143:8|
The toughest thing Christians struggle with is by far, “faith.” Faith to believe there is a God. Faith to trust that He knows who we are (He is personal). Faith to believe He is sovereignly in control of our lives. Faith to trust that He will follow through on His promises (that is, his promises are true and trustworthy). Faith to trust that he will do what we ask in accordance with His will. Faith to continuously trust Him even if the answer we received was not included in our request. Faith to believe and accept that He knows what is best for us.
Faith is part of the Christian’s growing process. If we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, Rom. 8:29, then the very word “conformed” must by proxy include process of transformation. The process God uses is the same at its root level for all, but the experience differs. I believe the difference in experience is directly related to the call that God places on each life. After speaking about being transformed from this present world to the world of Christ, Rom 12:2, Paul reveals an interesting direction of God that would be developed in the church. He follows transformation to Christ with Gifts that are given to believers! These, in turn, become God’s tools for reaching the lost for Christ. He begins by saying:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3 (ESV)
He then follows with different types of gifts that God disperses to the church body in the manner He chooses. These gifts complement one another so that all needs are being met. Paul lists them as follows, prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy. But we should note that although the gifts differ in scope, they all are arrived at in the same manner and can only be exercised by faith. The one who has the gift of prophecy cannot correctly interpret and deliver God’s word unless he believes it is sure. The one who serves cannot do it sacrificially unless they first resolve that Christ sacrificially gave Himself for them. A teacher and leader cannot lead unless they believe that where God’s word has led them is not a dead end. How can one give without believing they are helping the greatest cause? I cannot exhort unless I myself have sit under the instruction of the truth of Scripture. And finally I can show mercy because mercy has been shown to me.
The one common denominator underlying all of these gifts is faith; which brings us full circle to where we started—the tough struggle of faith. It is during these struggles that we cannot lose focus, we must not falter. We must realize that we are the vessels God is depending on to reach a lost and dying world. What joy we can experience when we personally realize we are considered useful to God. It is then by faith that our devotion to God becomes genuine in the sight of others.
All of the above gifts are not immediately usable or 100% deployable. They must be sharpened in order to become readily evident. It is true that as God disperses them, they are 100% present in us; but what is remaining is the endurance of trials of life that sharpen their effectiveness. It is this point that many falter or suffer doubt. Nobody likes to endure trials of faith. But again, we must remember that all of us will go through trials in order to develop within us the gift that God has granted us. This is why James could say:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
He could say, “Count it all joy” because of knowing that the trial is proof of the ownership—that is, “… you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Non-believers endure trials as well, many even being born into trial. Their lives are often lived going from one trial to another, but it does not have to be so. They too, have the opportunity to find joy in their trials if they turn to Christ and allow Him the reigns of their lives. That is where they falter. But it is not so for the Christian. We are to see trial as the stepping stones of stronger zeal for the carrying forth of our gifts. God’s word is trustworthy. Through enduring trial, we come to understand just how trustworthy it is.
I wish there was another way, but God has not ordained it so. The only way you and I can endure trial and come out the way God intended, is for us to believe God’s word is true; and that in believing and enduring, we will become even more effective in our witness to the lost, allowing God to be glorified in us.