For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)
Faith is something we so easily take for granted because it only becomes active when we need it. We may imagine that our faith is strong, especially when things are going well and we don’t encounter hardship or difficulties to challenge that perception. When things are rough, we inevitably confront the real condition of our faith and all too often discover the reality ‘our faith’ alone is seldom enough to empower us to endure. There are times when it seems that we require more than we are capable of. The measure of faith we have doesn’t seem equal to the situation. What we don’t realise is that God’s measure is always in perfect balance.
Our measure of faith is, first and foremost, a gift of God.
We can believe nothing in and of ourselves. Any faith conjured or created by self will always be for the wrong things and will always be influence by our emotions, state of mind, personal desires, or situations. This is the inherent problem in ‘positive thinking’ teachings and strategies – it anchors faith in our changeable humanity and context and it focuses entirely on self. Real faith is a gift of God. It is the ability to believe outside of our reality and is anchored in the nature and character of God. In essence, our belief is not so much what He can do in a particular situation but who He is all the time. Our measure of faith is determined by God alone.
Part of ‘thinking soberly’ is realising that we simply do not have the ability to generate the faith we need. More than this, ‘good times faith’ all to easily slides into the place of ‘my faith.’ We begin to take the credit, even without realising it – as if our believing or having faith is responsible for the present blessings and ease. Its a dangerous place of complacency, because we forget that without God, it is imposible to have even the smallest measure of faith.
God works continually in us to grow our measure of faith.
As we live our Christian walk, it is the difficulties, suffering, and hardships we faith that work to challenge and stretch our faith to new levels. Faith not used does not increase. It remains static. It is only when we need it that it works as a dynamic, God given power in our lives. Whether it is the faith to step out, the faith to endure, the faith to stand firm, or the faith that reaches beyond the ordinary into great miracles, it requires action on our part to ‘flick the switch’ and empower the measure of faith that God has placed in us.
These moments in which we need faith are, however, like the race at the end of a perid of training. They aren’t necessarily a daily occurence. God trains us in our faith as we use it in small things. It is in the tiny details of our lives, as we learn to apply our measure of faith to the seemingly inconsequential things, that God builds and increases it in preparation for the ‘test of endurance’ where it is often faith alone that will get us through.
Our measure of faith is always given in perfect balance.
God’s inherent nature is one of perfection, which includes the simple truth of perfect balance. He is alpha and omega, He is judgement and mercy, He is perfect righteousness and perfect sacrifice. In all things, God always works in this same perfect balance. The same principle applies to our measure of faith. God always provides the measure required to perfectly balance the need. If we don’t have it when we need it, it’s because we turn our focus inward to self and see our own lack rather than looking to God for what we need.
The simple truth that underpins faith is that I don’t have it and I’m incapable of it in and of myself. Any faith I have can only be from God. This is an awareness that should infuse all our moments. The faith we exercise, whether for little things or large, is always ‘in Christ.’ It is always a gift of God, and it always implies His sovereignty in any situation. We’re all familiar with the adage that ‘God will never give us more than we can bear.’ This references our measure of faith. What it means is that, whatever we have to endure, He also provides the measure of faith to enable and empower us to endure in perfect balance to the need.
Not having faith is the first step in receiving our measure of faith.
The acknowledgement of our lack enables us to receive. While we continue in a place where we imagine that our faith is of ourselves, we cannot receive what we need from God. If we look in ourselves for the measure of faith we need in a particular moment, we cannot also look to God. The result is that we’re so often disappointed. We become stuck in our own lack.
Instead, if we acknowledge honestly that we simply don’t have what it takes, we’re one step closer to asking Him to provide what we need. When we ask, He releases the measure of faith that empowers our particular provision in that moment. There is a distinction between the simple daily faith that empowers our Christian walk – the faith for salvation – and the faith required to endure and gain victory. Each requires a particular measure of faith, and God provides in perfect balance to the need. Both are a gift of grace.
When Jesus returns, will He find faith on earth?
Our family is immersed in the shattering grief of inexplicable loss. Right now, we’re raw and hurting, and faith in who and what God is is all that sustains us. Yet through my prayers, this question remains in my spirit. It has touched me in a powerful way, because even in the midst of a grief that is beyond description, if find myself reaching a new understanding of the measure of faith that God gives to His people.
In our need and desperation, do we pause to ask God what He requires us to believe for in each particular situation? I have come to see that this is the root of the kind of faith that Jesus talks of when He asks this question. Faith outside the will and sovereignty of God is not faith. We pray earnestly, we pray using the Word, we pray in absolute faith in the Word, but we never pause to ask God what He wants us to have faith for in this moment. Unless we do, God cannot provide the measure of faith He has waiting for us.
Without faith it is impossible for us to please God.
All too often, this truth becomes a source of condemnation or failure. We have a sense that if we acknowledge our lack of faith, we’re immediately in a place where He will not work. Instead, however, it is the beginning of perfect provision. It is the place of humility, the place where we can come in honesty, admit our lack, and receive. To be sure that we receive the measure of faith that is truly from God, though, we need to first ask what He needs us to have faith for.
This is the kind of faith that pleases God, because it puts Him in His rightful place. It lifts us out of self and puts our eyes on Him. It acknowledges His sovereignty in every situation and places us in His grace. What we may be struggling to believe for right now may not be what God wants us to believe for. Faith is very specific and it’s always grounded in the perfect purposes of God. If nothing else, my grief has brought me to a place of simple truth and grace. Right now, I don’t have to ‘have faith.’ All I need to do is ask for the measure of faith for the moment – the faith to believe what He wants me to believe right now. The rest is in His hands.
Thank You, Father God, for the comfort contained in Your infinite grace. Thank Your for the truth and assurance that faith is not up to us but is perfect provision in You. Help usto always desire the faith that pleases You, to look always to You for Your perfect purpose and perfect provision, and for the measure of faith we need in each moment.