Week 11: James and the Fatherless
Day 2: Characteristics and Necessity of Faith, Part I – No Room For Doubt
God gives one requirement when He tells us to ask for wisdom: He wants us to do it in faith. Faith is a crucial part of our Christian lives. In fact, we cannot even become Christians without faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him…” and Romans 14:23 says, “…Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Faith is very important.
We have already discussed the need for faith in ministries to the fatherless. It is vital. Here in James 1:6, God gives us a glimpse of some of the characteristics of faith:
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
We don’t have much “oceanfront property” in Montana . . . Okay, none to be exact. But we do have wind. I recently saw a meme on Facebook that said, “Someone driving into a 70mph wind in Texas is called a ‘stormchaser’, someone driving into a 70mph wind in Montana is called a ‘motorist’.” That pretty well sums it up. I don’t know how many times I’ve been awakened in the night by a blast of wind slamming against the house. Our wind is usually one-directional because of the mountains, but occasionally it gets a little fickle. It starts in the southwest, moves to the west, then back to the southeast and…whoa… all the way around the compass to the northwest…whoops, back to the southeast. Usually, at some point on a day like that, someone can be heard saying, “I sure wish this wind would decided which way it’s going.”
I think that pretty much describes the way God feels about a faith that is constantly shifting directions. We ask for wisdom saying, “I know God will give it, but maybe He won’t so just in case, I’m going to ask . . . ” That isn’t faith. We ask for guidance and direction saying, “I know He will lead, but just so I don’t get stuck somewhere I’m going to plan this way . . . ” We ask for provision, saying, “I know God will provide, but let me figure out how I can make the money.” Don’t get me wrong. Seeking counsel, planning for the future, and working with our hands are all very important and very biblical, but when we do it because we are not willing to fully trust – that is not faith. AND it is sin. (Romans 14:23)
We have the blessing of serving a God that we can fully trust. Several years ago, I went on a survey trip to China. During the course of our trip we went into a temple. I remember looking at the various idols and being almost overwhelmed—there were so many! One in particular caught my eye. He was laughing and dancing and looked incredibly happy. I remember thinking that I could see why a person might be drawn to anything or anyone that looked that happy. But then I considered that idol in the light of tragedy and sorrow. I thought over some of the things that had been going on in my own life, the struggles and the weights that were simply too heavy for me to bear, and I thought, “I would not want him dancing into my darkness. He would have no understanding of sorrow.” He could not be trusted to meet every need, thus the need for so many gods. The God of the Bible is not like that. He does meet every need. He can be trusted both in joy and in sorrow, in times of ease as well as times of difficulty.
Sometimes it is difficult to see what God is doing. Sometimes we wonder if we got it all wrong, headed off in the wrong direction, and God just gave up on us and isn’t doing anything at all. That is never the case. (Not that we can’t head in the wrong direction, but that He should ever stop working on our behalf when we are seeking to serve Him.) God is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised.”
I Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
We have nothing to worry about. When we have the confidence that God has called us to something, He will carry it out. It may not be in our timing, or in our way, but He will do it.
Over the years, I have heard many people bemoaning the smallness of their faith: “I could never do that, I don’t think my faith is strong enough.” The truth is, when the disciples asked the Lord to increase their faith, Jesus didn’t say, “Yeah, you guys have puny faith, it needs to be about the size of the Middle East and you’re not even close to that.” Instead he said, “ . . . If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root; and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” (Luke 17:6) It isn’t the magnitude of our faith that is so terribly important. It is the object of our faith – and our understanding of that object. The more we know God, the more we know His power, and the more we will be able to trust Him. The more we allow patience to work in our lives so that we can by experience learn that God is faithful, the more we will be able to have the confident hope that allows us to step forward in faith the next time a challenge arises.
Sometimes, I feel a little like the man in Mark chapter nine who brought his son to the disciples and asked them to cast out an evil spirit. When they could not, he went to Jesus and asked Him to have compassion on them. Jesus answered, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23) As you read the next verse you can see the agony of heart that this man is enduring. He wants desperately for his son to be delivered from this bondage, and yet he fears that in himself something is lacking: “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) Jesus does not directly respond to his statement. In fact, the Bible doesn’t really tell us whether Jesus subsequent actions had anything to do with the conversation with this man. It simply says that Jesus saw that the crowd was gathering and commanded the spirit to come out of the child. But He did what the man had asked. He honored the man’s request.
Our faith, and the results of our faith, are dependent upon the One in whom we are trusting. The word in Mark 9:24 translated as “help” is a very powerful word and paints a picture that can’t help but stir the heart and fill it with hope. It is a compound word, in other words it comes from two words. The first of these two words means “a cry”, the second means “to run”. The word literally means “to run to the cry (of those in danger)”(Thayers). It is like this man is saying, Lord, I’m in danger of not believing, please come to my aid.
How often does Scripture speak of God responding to the cry of His people? Think of the power displayed in those moments. In Exodus, we are told that God heard the cry of His people and delivered them out of Egypt by means of the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of Pharaoh’s armies. David cried unto the Lord in many situations and God delivered him. Armies were defeated at the cry of the people to their God . . .
We have no room for doubt.