Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hebrews 11

Over the summer I've been slowly working my way through the book of Hebrews. There's a lot in it and I often find myself stopping after just a few verses because there's so much in them. There is one chapter though that I found myself wanting to take in all at once, but still wanting to take slowly. I've spent most of the last week in Hebrews 11.

Growing up I commonly heard this chapter referred to as the "Hall of Faith." But I think I like the heading my Bible gives this chapter better: "Faith in Action." And the chapter is full of people who lived their faith, so "faith in action" seems like an appropriate title to me.

There are two verses in this chapter that really seem to me to be the basis for a definition of faith.
Verse 1 says, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." And verse 6 says, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." These verses make it pretty clear that faith begins in our minds - with how we think.

But, as I read and re-read the rest of the chapter, it becomes pretty clear to me that faith is about more than how we think. Those who were commended for their faith in faith are overwhelmingly commended for what they did by faith. They are mentioned because of how what they believed in their minds was played out in their lives. It changed how they lived. It impacted the actions they took.

Just a few of the examples in Hebrews 11:
  • Verse 7 - Noah built an ark when God told him too, even when there was no sign of the flood God said was going to come.
  • Verse 8-9 - Abraham left all he knew to go to a new land because of a promise God made to Him.
  • Verse 17 - Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son, the son of the promise, to God, because he believed that God could still fulfill His promise.
  • Verse 24-28 - Moses led Israel out of Egypt and toward the Promised Land without knowing the end result of it.
  • Verse 30 - The people marched around Jericho according to God`s instructions because they believed that God would bring victory that way.
  • Verse 31 - Rahab protected the spies that came even when it put herself and her family in danger.

As I spend time in this chapter, I find myself challenged anew to put my faith in action. I`m reminded that while my thinking is important, it's only the beginning. Faith begins with choosing to think a certain way, but it is proved by how I live. My faith needs to be "faith in action." What I say I believe should be evidenced in how I live my life.

So today, I leave you with some questions that I've been thinking about as I've spent some time in this chapter of God's Word.
How would you define faith?
How does that compare with what this chapter of Scripture says faith is?
What impact does that have on how you live? In other words, what does "faith in action" look like in your life?

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