What Is the Purpose of Faith? (Y1.T2.D25)
Unsplash; "Alex Radelich"
The purpose of faith is to obtain salvation:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)
I realize some people believe the purpose of faith is to obtain healing and miracles, but that's not always the case. Recently I found myself suffering from lower back pain. Part of it was from limping after I broke my foot, but most of it was from bad sleeping and eating habits with little exercise.
I fully believe God still performs miraculous healing, but when he doesn't, I don't blame my faith—or God's promise to never leave me or forsake me. Illness doesn't call into question Deuteronomy 31:6: "Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or scared of them; for Yahweh your God himself is who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you.”
All relationships—including the divine—require self-sacrifice. Because God us wants to learn to love unconditionally, he requires we love him that way. Job is the best example of faith amid trials. After losing his property, income, and every member of his family except his wife, Job "arose, and tore his robe, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshiped" (Job 1:20).
Worshiped—wow. Now that's great faith.
He said, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked will I return there. Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away. Blessed be Yahweh’s name.” In all this, Job didn’t sin, nor charge God with wrongdoing" (Job 1:21–22).
Then the very next day he broke out with "painful sores from the sole of his foot to his head" (Job 2:7). And his wife issued the final blow by saying, "Do you still maintain your integrity? Renounce God, and die" (Job 2:9).
But Job said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).
Faith does not promise us life will be easy. Faith promises God's presence amid all life throws at us—good or bad.
In today's passages, Jesus explains to his disciples the power of mustard seed faith—which can uproot a tree from the land to the sea (Luke 17:6)—with a follow-up example. And it's not what many people expect:
But who is there among you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will say when he comes in from the field, "Come immediately and sit down at the table," and will not rather tell him, "Prepare my supper, clothe yourself properly, and serve me, while I eat and drink. Afterward you shall eat and drink"? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded? I think not. Even so you also, when you have done all the things that are commanded you, say, "We are unworthy servants. We have done our duty." (Luke 17:7–10)
As God's servants, our job isn't to do his work for the benefit of thanks or miracles. Human nature expects thanks. Human nature expects miracles. Faith promises relationship, regardless of circumstances.
When it comes to asking God to heal my back, I should approach God as the lepers in Luke 17:13 did: "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
And if he does, I should thank him. And if he doesn't, I should still thank him with the faith of Job, trusting the Lord knows best. And honestly, I've found the pain has become a motivator for me to change some bad habits. If God miraculously healed my lower back pain, I would only damage it again.
God's love wants what's best for us, not just what feels good in the moment. And the purpose of faith is to draw us to the saving power of grace—and servant's life.
The Faithful Servant
6 The Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you would tell this sycamore tree, ‘Be uprooted, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7 But who is there among you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will say when he comes in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down at the table,’ 8 and will not rather tell him, ‘Prepare my supper, clothe yourself properly, and serve me, while I eat and drink. Afterward you shall eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded? I think not. 10 Even so you also, when you have done all the things that are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants. We have done our duty.’”
11 As he was on his way to Jerusalem, he was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered into a certain village, ten men who were lepers met him, who stood at a distance. (Luke 17:6–11)
1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever is unclean by a corpse. 3 You shall put both male and female outside of the camp so that they don’t defile their camp, in the midst of which I dwell.”
4 The children of Israel did so, and put them outside of the camp; as Yahweh spoke to Moses, so the children of Israel did. (Numbers 5:1–4)
4 He has made my flesh and my skin old.
He has broken my bones.
5 He has built against me,
and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me dwell in dark places,
as those who have been long dead.
7 He has walled me about, so that I can’t go out.
He has made my chain heavy.
8 Yes, when I cry, and call for help,
he shuts out my prayer.
9 He has walled up my ways with cut stone.
He has made my paths crooked.
10 He is to me as a bear lying in wait,
as a lion in secret places.
11 He has turned away my ways,
and pulled me in pieces.
He has made me desolate.
12 He has bent his bow,
and set me as a mark for the arrow.
13 He has caused the shafts of his quiver to enter into my kidneys.
14 I have become a derision to all my people,
and their song all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitterness.
He has stuffed me with wormwood.
16 He has also broken my teeth with gravel.
He has covered me with ashes.
17 You have removed my soul far away from peace.
I forgot prosperity.
18 I said, “My strength has perished,
along with my expectation from Yahweh.”
19 Remember my affliction and my misery,
the wormwood and the bitterness.
20 My soul still remembers them,
and is bowed down within me.
21 This I recall to my mind;
therefore I have hope.
22 It is because of Yahweh’s loving kindnesses that we are not consumed,
because his compassion doesn’t fail.
23 They are new every morning.
Great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:4–23)
13 They lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” As they went, they were cleansed. (Luke 17:13–14)
43 Then the priest shall examine him. Behold, if the swelling of the plague is reddish-white in his bald head, or in his bald forehead, like the appearance of leprosy in the skin of the body, 44 he is a leprous man. He is unclean. The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean. His plague is on his head.
45 “The leper in whom the plague is shall wear torn clothes, and the hair of his head shall hang loose. He shall cover his upper lip, and shall cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 All the days in which the plague is in him he shall be unclean. He is unclean. He shall dwell alone. His dwelling shall be outside of the camp.
47 “The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it is a woolen garment, or a linen garment; 48 whether it is in warp or woof;[a] of linen or of wool; whether in a leather, or in anything made of leather; 49 if the plague is greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the leather, or in the warp, or in the woof, or in anything made of leather; it is the plague of leprosy, and shall be shown to the priest. 50 The priest shall examine the plague, and isolate the plague seven days. 51 He shall examine the plague on the seventh day. If the plague has spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in the skin, whatever use the skin is used for, the plague is a destructive mildew. It is unclean. 52 He shall burn the garment, whether the warp or the woof, in wool or in linen, or anything of leather, in which the plague is, for it is a destructive mildew. It shall be burned in the fire.
53 “If the priest examines it, and behold, the plague hasn’t spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in anything of skin; 54 then the priest shall command that they wash the thing that the plague is in, and he shall isolate it seven more days. 55 Then the priest shall examine it, after the plague is washed; and behold, if the plague hasn’t changed its color, and the plague hasn’t spread, it is unclean; you shall burn it in the fire. It is a mildewed spot, whether the bareness is inside or outside. 56 If the priest looks, and behold, the plague has faded after it is washed, then he shall tear it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof; 57 and if it appears again in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in anything of skin, it is spreading. You shall burn what the plague is in with fire. 58 The garment, either the warp, or the woof, or whatever thing of skin it is, which you shall wash, if the plague has departed from them, then it shall be washed the second time, and it will be clean.”
59 This is the law of the plague of mildew in a garment of wool or linen, either in the warp, or the woof, or in anything of skin, to pronounce it clean, or to pronounce it unclean. (Leviticus 13:43–59)
15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks; and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus answered, “Weren’t the ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there none found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up, and go your way. Your faith has healed you.” (Luke 17:15–19)
Thank You for the faith to obtain the grace of salvation in which I cannot boast (Ephesians 2:8–9). My faith trusts You with all my heart and doesn't lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). At this time in my life, I have only a dim reflection of You, not yet face to face. I only know in part but will one day in heaven know fully, and be fully known. But for now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. And the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:12–13).
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