How do you love those that hate you? When they falsely accuse you? When they say all manner of evil against you? When they call you a hater? When they consider you to be an ignoramus? When they mock what is good and extol what is evil? Sometimes you have to do it just by faith.
How do you rejoice when you are persecuted? It doesn’t feel good to be looked at as a liar. It doesn’t make your day to be called a bad person. It doesn’t encourage your sense of self-worth to know that someone thinks you hate them. It plays with your mind to be considered of foolishly low intelligence. It turns things upside down when what you do out of a sense of duty, honor, and truth is considered to be self-serving, shameful, and false. So how do you rejoice? Sometimes you have to do it just by faith.
A big, rough and tumble type man came to Christ. When he returned to his job and his fellow workers heard that he had become a believer, they began a campaign to mock his “new religion.” One day a man began to make fun of the big man’s faith. He was a rather small man both in stature and in character. He continued his skeptical tirade throughout the day. Eventually he made his attack very personal.
“Your religion is doing you absolutely no good.” he sneered.
The gentle giant looked down at his mousy antagonist and said, “My religion may not be doing me any good, but right now it sure is being a great blessing to you!”
Sometimes you have to do it just by faith. When you are not feeling well and the pressures of life mount up and some inner voice says that you can’t make it and instead of feeling blessed you feel blue, you may need to continue just by faith. When you have been hurt so badly by someone that should have helped you, you may need to respond with a soft answer, not because you feel like it, but by faith.
Think about Stephen, as the rocks were being hurled at him, the agony beyond description, his contusions lethal, his breath ragged. “Lord,” he groaned, “Lay not this sin to their charge.” How could he? By faith.
What kind of faith are we talking about? When we say by faith, we must ask what our faith is in. Faith implies belief in something. It is not just having faith in faith. That is meaningless. Faith is trusting in something. Or someone.
When we say we believe in creation, we mean that we believe that “the worlds were framed by the word of God.” God was before time, space, or atoms. He spoke them into existence. I cannot get my mind around the idea that God “created the heavens, and stretched them out” (Isa. 42:5). He says that not only once or twice, but four times so that we don’t miss it. But that’s not all that is hard to imagine. There will be a time when His use for them is complete. Here is what He will do with the heavens: “And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up” (Heb. 1:12). God created the heavens and stretched them out like you would a large piece of cloth. When He is finished with them, He will fold them up, like you would a mantle, or a shawl. It is in God who is so great that in a moment of time He stretched out the heavens, that we believe.
When we say we love our enemies by faith, it is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, “who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Pet. 2:23). It is love, not out of emotion but out of a decision to follow Him “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” That faith decision turns us from what the rest of the world is to something different. Instead of living in sinful selfishness and petty vindictiveness, “we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (v.24). Nothing here says anything about having a particular feeling of euphoria. No. It merely says that He left us an example that we should follow His steps (v. 21). Loving by faith is suffering long and being kind to our enemies because we believe Jesus showed us how to respond to evil words and deeds.
When something really bad happens and we say our faith can take us through it, we mean that we believe God meant what He said about all things working together for good to them that love Him. He who measures out heaven with the span of His hand, who knows the intricacies of molecular structure down to each individual electron, is working in all things. And He is good. “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Ps. 145:9). How can we say that when what is happening seems to have no good in it? Only because we believe that God does not lie and that no matter how bad it seems, He is not at the mercy of the circumstance. Spurgeon said, “When I cannot trace His hand, I can trust His heart.”
When heaviness in the heart makes it stoop, and the joy bells are silenced, and the step is heavy, and the sun is hidden by dark clouds, and the harp is hung on the willow, yet we hold on to our faith, we are saying that faith is not in the emotions but in the facts of the word of God who cannot lie.
A woman and her young daughter went to a Christian meeting and responded to the wonderful message that “God so loved the world that He gave His Son.” They were happy in their new faith for several weeks. One morning, however, the mother awoke with a heavy feeling. She moped around the kitchen and her daughter sensed the unhappy atmosphere. Dull silence dominated. Then the girl disappeared for several minutes. Her shouts interrupted the somber morning.
“Mother! Mother!” she exclaimed. “It’s still there!”
“What is still there?” enquired the startled woman.
“I just looked it up,” answered the girl. “John 3:16 is still in the Bible!”
The spell was broken as mother and daughter rejoiced in the fact that God does not change His word. He is the same and His promises remain for all who believe. It does not depend on fancy or feelings. It is true. Always. Sometimes you have to do it just by faith.
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17).