Let’s be honest, on most working days the tasks in hand consume your mind and occupy your thoughts. However devout you are, you will, quite naturally, focus on the immediate, and spend your time attempting to rise to the daily flow of demands which, quickly or slowly, come your way. This is not a criticism; it is merely an observation about an intrinsic aspect of day to day life.
You live by deadlines, diaries or meetings; you live by customer demands or client requirements;you live by your employer’s requests and the agreements in your job description; you may live by the rhythm of the markets or the schedule of your school, hospital or small business; you may be self-employed and live by the inner motivation which is irrespective of any supervisor’s agenda; you may be an adrenaline junkie or a laid back rock’n’roller, but we all move to the melodies of the mundane for large parts of our lives. In this daily round there is a creed which applies to your times if you want to be real: Christians are called to “live by faith”.
This is an interesting phrase and has many meanings. It certainly implies operating in waysrelated to the unseen rather than the visible. It recognizes that there is someone bigger than you or I and proposes that we find our meaning within the supernatural rather than the natural framework.
The more you explore this phrase, the more you will hone in on the object of your faith, learning his name and discovering his character. You will then find yourself inhabiting two worlds: there is the close up world you are now aware of – the computer screen or piece of paper on which these words are written, or the room that you are in and the other people you encounter; but there is also the far off world of the spirit, the ethereal, mystical and intangible – it’s hard to pin that world down, describe it or move through its landscapes.
So, for most of the time we tend to get on with it, agreeing that we live by faith but not really arranging our operating systems to test our own creed. The result is that you can develop the habit of living by talent rather faith; you can run the risk of living by food, money or your skill set; you can actually live by work and effort, sweat and struggle, gifting and aptitude. It’s not wrong in itself; it’s just inaccurate and incomplete.
If you were to try to fast from food for any length of time it would reveal to you how you live by food; taking the food away exposes the dependence.
Catch a flu virus and you quickly realise how dependent you are on being able to think clearly and move about without exhaustion. Face falling income, and you soon realise how much you have been living by finance and trusting in savings.
This was the process that Job went through in the story reputed to be the oldest piece of writing in the bible; stripped of everything, would he still live by faith?
God never asks us to go on hunger strike to prove that without food we die. He asks us to recognise that we can’t live by bread alone. In his heart is a motivation to teach us that faith isn’t faith unless it’s in him alone. That is why he says “you shall have no gods before me”; that is why he stripped Job to his core; that is why his Son offers himself as the only way, not one of a range of support structures.
It’s about daily focus. The focus of faith only empowers you to live if it is directed to God and nowhere else. He will not share the relationship with anyone else because he knows that living by faith in him is the only route to authentic reality.
So today, make loads of money if you can, but don’t live by it; celebrate your talents if you can, but don’t trust in them; have a great meal – but don’t consider it a complete diet; play the market for all it’s worth, but don’t dance to its tune. Living by faith is what you do when everything else is stripped away. It is revealed when you have nothing else in your hands. But living by faith is also what you do when nothing is stripped away, when your hands are full and your talent is flowing. Faith is only faith if it is exclusively, solely, permanently and deliberately focused on God.
Stay focused today.
4 The righteous will live by his faith
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
9 Does Job fear God for nothing? Satan replied. 10 Have you not put a hedge around him
and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that
his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike
everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face. 12 The LORD said to Satan,
Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a
finger. Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
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